Fourth line comes through vs. Senators

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Fourth line comes through vs. Senators

BOSTON -- The Bs fourth line made no secrets about the fact they knew they could be better.

Daniel Paille had the only point among the three forwards through a combined 30 games played between himself, Shawn Thornton and Gregory Campbell ina lackingmonth of October. Thornton had scrapped in two of the last three games heading into Tuesday night against the Senators, and both he and Campbell dropped the gloves for the necessary emotional component provided by the energy line. In fact Thornton dropped 'em with former teammate Zenon Konopka on Tuesday night after fighting with former teammates Jim Vandermeer and Travis Moen in the last handful of games.

But above and beyond the friendly hockey fights, theevening was complete for the fourth line when all three forwards teamedto set up a third periodinsurance goal that helped form the final score in Bostons 5-3 victory over the Sens.There's a reason why the Bruins went 17-6-4 when Thornton, Paille or Campbell lit the lamp last season.

I think their line was more of what we know them to be, said coach Claude Julien. I thought they did a great job of starting the game for us in Montreal the other night got the puck in, and hemmed them in, and gave us some energy and against the Senators it was the same thing. We got a good first shift from that line.

They set the tempo of the games a lot of times. Theyre very good at that. I thought they played a lot better tonight and it was more of keeping the puck in the offensive zone and keeping them hemmed in. They seemed to read off each other better, and didnt get caught with outnumbered situations. Lately theyve been caught low, the three of them together. It was a good outing from that line rewarded with a goal from Paille.

The play was a reward for all three players getting some production for all their toil over the last few games. Campbell took the hit to scrape the puck off the wall, and Thornton tossed a perfectly placed lead pass to the speedy Paille. It might go down as one of the better looks Thornton has coaxed out of his hands in a respectable NHL career. The fourth line left wing dashed in behind the Ottawa defense and managed to flip the puck through Craig Andersons leg pads for Paille's second goal of the seasonjust 37 seconds after Johnny Boychuk had rifled home the game-winning goal.

It was pretty funny considering that Thornton had hosted Campbell at his house in Charlestown for a Halloween barbeque to talk about improving things within the team and more specifically their line.

We put pressure on ourselves obviously. We are older guys and we definitely want to be better, Thornton said. I actually had Soupy over last night to try and break the jinx. We thought about it and we obviously want to be able to contribute.

It was revealing on several levels for the fourth line and for the Bruins given Juliens choices throughout the game. The Bs coach started the energy playersat opening puck drop to give Boston the necessary momentum off the hop, and Julienthen went with the fourth line again in the shifts immediately following the third and fourth goals of the game.

Thats about as blatant a show of trust and responsibility as one will ever see the Bs coach make during a must-win game, and it was much to the chagrin of the card-carrying fourth line haters of the world. The fourth line paid back his faith by performing at each turn. Its no coincidence that the line's successful showing and a victorious effort were both connected, and the Bruins snapped their three-game losing streak because of it.

It isnt always about the points or production for the Bs fourth line, but the energy group setting the tone usually portends good things ahead for a Bruins team in need. That was never more apparent than Boston's team win over the Senators at their time of desperation.

Haggerty: Reports of Seidenberg's demise were greatly exaggerated

Haggerty: Reports of Seidenberg's demise were greatly exaggerated

Hindsight is always 20/20, of course, but it appears the Bruins made a mistake buying out veteran defenseman Dennis Seidenberg from the final couple of years of his contract. 

Seidenberg just finished up a wildly successful stint with host Team Germany at the IIHF World Championships, where he was named Directorate Best Defenseman (the tournament’s best defenseman) after leading all D-men with a goal and eight points. This came after Seidenberg, at age 35, posted 5 goals and 22 points in 73 games for the Islanders, with whom he signed after being cut loose by the B's, while averaging a shade under 20 minutes per game.  Seidenberg also had an excellent World Cup of Hockey tournament for Team Europe last summer (where he was teamed once again with Zdeno Chara), thus managing to play at a high level from September all the way through May.

A faction of Bruins fans thought he was on the serious decline after the 2015-16 season and, clearly, the Bruins agreed, opting to buy him out with two more years still left on a sizable contract extension. (They owe him $2.16 million next season and then will be charged $1.16 million on their salary cap over the next two seasons.) But the B's could have used a durable, defensive warrior like Seidenberg in the playoffs, when they lost three of their top four defensemen against the Ottawa Senators. A rejuvenated Seidenberg, able to play both the left and right side, would have been a better option than Colin Miller.

The Bruins made a conscious decision to hand things over to younger defensemen like Miller, Torey Krug, Brandon Carlo and Joe Morrow in cutting ties with Seidenberg. But they also perhaps miscalculated how much Seidenberg still had left in the tank after his best season in at least three years. 

“Well, at the time we felt like [Seidenberg's] game had really dropped off to where we thought he couldn’t contribute, and we wanted to see if some younger players could come in and help us out,” Bruins president Cam Neely said at the end-of-the-season press conference earlier this month. “I’ve got to say he played well this year for Long Island. But at the time we thought it was the right move. You can’t envision us having three of our top four D’s get hurt [in the playoffs]. We went through a lot of D’s in the postseason. You can’t predict that.”

Neely is referring to the decision made after Seidenberg’s second straight minus season in Boston, when back injuries and a major knee injury had seemed to slow him down a bit. It seemed the only way to properly evaluate some of their other, younger defenseman was to cut Seidenberg loose, but one has to wonder if the Bruins would have possibly done it had they known he was still capable of playing like he did this season for the Islanders. 

Either way, the buyout of Seidenberg is an extremely legitimate second guess of Bruins management in a year where they did a lot of things right. 
 

Monday, May 22: Senators all out of playoff magic?

Monday, May 22: Senators all out of playoff magic?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while feeling like we’ll be getting a Pittsburgh/Nashville Stanley Cup Final, which I suppose would be the best possible outcome at this point.

*You hear the name and it just gets you angry all over again if you grew up watching the Bruins. Ulf Samuelsson is in the running for an assistant coaching job with the Chicago Blackhawks, according to a report.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Chris Johnston says it appears that the time is running out on a Cinderella season for the Ottawa Senators.

*A taste of winning at the world championships with Team Sweden could fuel Alex Edler’s desire for a change from the rebuilding Vancouver Canucks.

*Interesting piece on a former can’t miss goaltending prospect with the Nashville Predators that ended up totally missing, and what he’s been up to in life since then.

*Guy Boucher explains to Pro Hockey Talk why he kept changing goaltenders in the Game 5 blowout loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

*Don Cherry explains that he hates afternoon hockey during his Coach’s Corner from Hockey Night in Canada in the Game 5 blowout between the Penguins and Predators.

*A good piece from FOH (Friend of Haggs) Alex Prewitt on the Nashville Predators, and the evolution of the franchise into a team on the verge of a Stanley Cup Final appearance.

*For something completely different: What a win by the Boston Celtics in Game 3 in Cleveland, and quite an interesting, fired up interview with Al Horford afterward.