B's fourth line provides needed spark

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B's fourth line provides needed spark

BOSTON -- The Bruins made a conscious effort to exert a full team-wide push in an important Saturday game Saturday afternoon against the Nashville Predators.

The Bs fourth line had a little bit of good and bad in a 4-3 shootout win over the Preds at TD Garden, but was undoubtedly a factor in the needed victory with their infusion of energy. While the Bruins call their fourth line the energy line, but its also essentially a barometer for the physical commitment and energy level exhibited by the Black and Gold.

A Daniel Paille goal and oodles of energy from the fourth line forwards set the tone for the rest of the Bs, and left them with the kind of success through depth and hard work thats also the organizations founding philosophy. They finished with five shots on net as a trio and gave every last ounce of energy in their 14 shifts.

But Shawn Thornton doesnt pull many punches, and also admitted he wasnt too high about the goal scored because they gave it right back early in the third period on a Patric Holmqvist goal.

We were happy to score but then we got scored against so I guess it kind of washes out right? said Thornton. I think everyone showed up to play. There were a couple of mistakes and they capitalized on them, but I think the effort was there from everyone. I think everyone was trying to buy into the game plan, which was good.

Adam McQuaid was hauled down near the Nashville net, and then fell far behind the Predators transition game into the offensive zone. Shawn Thornton stepped up into McQuaids spot to cover the net, but Gregory Campbell lagged behind with back pressure creating a 3-on-2 in front of the net.

It was a mental error, to be sure, but it didnt wipe out the earlier play to give the Bs a temporary lead. Shawn Thornton had his back to the front of the net as he cycled behind the Predators cage, but heard Daniel Paille calling for the puck as he cut to the net.

Thornton flipped a pass backhanded to the front of the net and Paille finished the play off by raising a backhanded shot over Pekka Rinne.

That leaves Paille one goal short of double-digits this season, and gave the Bs fourth line plenty to build on with some important games on the horizon.

You need that fourth line production no matter what. I think thats Pailles ninth goal. For a guy who plays on the fourth line were certainly happy with his production this year, said Claude Julien. He did exactly what we had talked about. We saw that if we could beat their guy that was pursuing us, it was important that we take it to the net. They played a bit of a man-on-man type of defense, so it was important for us. You saw us tonight go behind the net, trying to jam it coming out the other side. Rinne was obviously standing tall for them, but we had a lot of opportunities that way. We did that in the first, and then again in the third by taking it from the corner and taking it to the net. That was a big goal for us.

The fourth lines contributions were so important that Milan Lucic immediately referenced their days work on Saturday afternoon when asked about his game-tying goal with 1:07 to go in the third period. Thats a sign the Bruins are all in it together at this point in the season, and that production from all four lines will be needed headed into the teeth of a nasty second-half schedule.

Morning Skate: Sidney Crosby has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation

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Morning Skate: Sidney Crosby has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while wishing everybody a safe and relaxing Memorial Day weekend. 

*Apparently Nashville Predators head coach Peter Laviolette has yet to try Nashville’s hot chicken despite his time behind the Preds bench. It’s okay, I have yet to try it either in my handful of visits to Music City. 

*Good stuff from PHT writer and FOH (Friend of Haggs) Jason Brough. Apparently it wasn’t so easy to make Wayne Gretzky’s head bleed when it came time for director Doug Liman to cut Swingers together

*Sidney Crosby cares about the history and the issues of the game, and has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation despite the hate that always comes with such responsibility. 

*Puck Daddy examines Crosby’s performance in the playoffs, and the odds of him winning another Conn Smythe Trophy. 

*The Penguins have made it to the Stanley Cup Final without Kris Letang for their playoff run, and that’s an amazing accomplishment. 

*Erik Karlsson said that he will be tending to his injured foot next week, and expects a full recovery for next season after a brilliant run with his Ottawa Senators

*Larry Brooks again rails against the Stanley Cup playoff structure and it’s relation to an “absurd regular season.” Say what you will, but the fact the Penguins are there for a second straight season shoots down some of the absurdity stuff in my mind. The best team from the East is where they should be and they did it without Kris Letang to boot. 

*Chicago Blackhawks prospect Alex Debrincat is confident his abilities will translate to the NHL despite his size after taking home honors as the best player in junior hockey this season. 

*For something completely different: Apparently there’s a hard core comic book geek gripe that “The Flash” is burning through bad guys too quickly. This would make sense if they couldn’t revisit these bad guys at any point, but they absolutely can go back to a big bad like Grodd anytime they want. 

Playoff run ends for Providence Bruins, but some promising signs

Playoff run ends for Providence Bruins, but some promising signs

It was the longest run that the P-Bruins have had in a few years and another unmistakable sign that the future is brightening for the Black and Gold, but the Bruins AHL affiliate has ended their playoff push in the Calder Cup semi-finals. 

The Providence Bruins fell by a 3-1 score to the Syracuse Crunch on Saturday night to lose to the Crunch in five games when the best-of-seven series was set to return to Providence this coming week. The P-Bruins had vanquished the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins and Hershey Bears in the first two rounds of the Calder Cup playoffs before finally exiting against Syracuse. 

Though it’s over, it’s clear some of the Bruins prospects made a nice step forward over the second half of the AHL season and then into the Calder Cup playoffs. With the Calder Cup Finals yet to start, B’s forward prospect Danton Heinen stands as the second-leading playoff scorer in the entire AHL with nine goals and 18 points in 17 playoff games after really struggling in the first half of his first pro season while bouncing back and forth between the NHL and the AHL. 

This could bode well for the skilled Heinen and his hopes to make the leap to the NHL in the near future after a stellar collegiate career at the University of Denver. AHL journeymen-types Wayne Simpson and Jordan Szwarz were the next two top scorers for the P-Bruins in the playoff run, but Jake DeBrusk had a strong playoff season as well while popping in six goals in 17 games. DeBrusk led all Providence players with his 54 shots on net in the 17-game playoff run for Providence, and he headlined a group that included B’s prospects Ryan Fitzgerald, Zach Senyshyn, Matt Grzelcyk, Peter Cehlarik (who succumbed to shoulder surgery during the playoffs), Emil Johansson and Robbie O’Gara all getting some vital playoff experience. 

Both Heinen and DeBrusk will be strong candidates for jobs on the wing with the Boston big club when training camp opens in the fall after strong showings in the postseason. 

On the goaltending side, Zane McIntyre was solid for the P-Bruins at times while in 16 of their 17 playoff games with a .906 save percentage. But it was Malcolm Subban that was playing at the very end of the playoff run for Providence and featured a sterling .937 save percentage in the four AHL playoff games that he appeared in this spring after an up-and-down regular season. McIntyre had an .857 save percentage and 4.37 goals against average in the final series against Syracuse, and looked a little spent like many of the other P-Bruins players once they’d unexpectedly made it to the third round of the AHL postseason.  

The only unfortunate part of Providence’s run is that newly signed youngsters Charlie McAvoy and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson couldn’t be a part of it after signing and then appearing in NHL games following a cut-off date for AHL playoff rosters. Both missed on an experience that could have been very conducive for their professional development, and uncovered a wrinkle in the NHL/AHL transaction process that really doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for a developmental league.