Merlot Line stays the same for B's early in camp

Merlot Line stays the same for B's early in camp
September 13, 2013, 2:00 pm
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While there was plenty of scuttlebutt that Daniel Paille might get a look for one of the third-line vacancies at training camp, the veteran left wing started in the same spot that he’s been for the majority of the last three seasons.

“We’re obviously familiar with each other. We can rib each other and give each other a hard time when somebody messes up a drill,” said Shawn Thornton. “There are no hard feelings, and we always work well together. We’ll see how long it continues to last, but for the first few days it’s been great.

“I think it’s just to start the drills, so nobody else messes them up.”

That was acting as the speedy, tenacious compliment to the cerebral Gregory Campbell and the menacing Thornton on Boston’s fourth line, a trio that have made their mark in the NHL as the best of their grinding kind. When Claude Julien and Peter Chiarelli essentially announced open auditions for at least one open wing spot on the third line heading into training camp, Paille was a natural dark horse coming off a 10 goal, 17 point season in 46 games. The 29-year-old has always had the wheels and the willingness to get his nose dirty, but his hands sometimes betrayed Paille when his other skills got him into scoring position.

That wasn’t the case last season, and perhaps Paille is turning a corner after four steady seasons in Boston. The ace penalty killer still might get a look on the third line as camp rolls on, but the Merlot Line of Paille, Campbell and Thornton was fully intact for the first two days on the ice.

It’s a tough spot for Julien, who wants to see Paille realize his potential while also feeling very good about relying on the best fourth line in the NHL. The trio almost single-handedly won Boston the second round playoff series against the Rangers last spring, and gives them a fourth line advantage over every other team in the league. In total Campbell, Paille and Thornton totalled 4 goals, 10 points and a plus-13 in five games against the Blueshirts.

Not bad for a bunch of fourth-line plumbers, eh?

They also haven’t missed a beat running into training camp after a nine week respite this summer.  

“They actually did look pretty good," Julien said. "They’ve been together for so long. I know the question is probably a reflection on whether Dan Paille could be moved up. I haven’t written that option off. There’s no doubt it would affect our other line, our fourth line. As you saw last year when we lost Gregory Campbell, it wasn’t the same. So we have to balance out what it is going to mean. At the end of the day, Dan’s going to want to help us the best way he can.

If it doesn’t affect his ice time, then there is no issue. I think as a player, if he is going to play “x” number of minutes on that line and he would get the same on the other line, it really doesn’t matter. Players want to play with people they are successful with, and Dan has been with that line. But at the same time he does bring some speed, he does bring a real good fore check and that might be a solution to our third line. Maybe somebody else is going to have to step into his spot on the fourth line and give us that. One thing I don’t want to be is narrow-minded and just have one thing in mind, and say ‘this is what it is going to be.’ I think I’m going to keep those options open.”