Report cards: Fourth line solid
Bruins report card -- Fourth line
Final grades are in for the 2011-2012 Boston Bruins. Here's the fourth line.
|PLAYER||SEASON AND PLAYOFF RECAP/GRADE|
Paille finished the regular season with six goals and nine assists in 69 regular season games and then added a goal in the playoffs. As always, Paille brought speed to this line, which also makes him a valuable part of the penalty kill. Paille battled some injury issues early in the season and was a healthy scratch at times but he played his role well.
Campbell had eight goals and eight assists in 79 regular season games and two helpers in the playoffs. The middle weight of the fourth line, Campbell never backs down from a fight and uses his physicality to slow down opponents in front of the net and in the corners as well as creating space for his teammates in the offensive zone. Campbell has also increased his role as a quiet leader on and off the ice.
Thornton was signed to a two-year extension towards the end of the season and it was deserved. Thornton's importance isn't just because he is a heavyweight enforcer. He's also one of the Bruins leaders and has the ears of his teammates. He's also not just an enforcer, he's a good skater and chipped in with five goals and eight assists on the season. He was a healthy scratch for the final two games of the seven-game series loss to the Capitals, but he took it with class, putting team first. That's why he gets the highest mark on this line because he personifies what this line is about -- team.
Caron wasn't a regular part of this line, but he saw increased playing time this season, appearing in 48 regular season games (some on the fourth line and some on other lines). He played in the final two playoff games against the Capitals when coach Claude Julien needed more versatility with Patrice Bergeron battling an oblique injury. The fact that Julien and his staff believed in Caron enough to sit a veteran leader like Thornton means the team has confidence in the 2009 first-round pick. Caron's stats weren't as good as they need to be with just seven goals and eight assists in 48 games, but he has earned the faith of his coach and should be given a chance to solidify a roster spot next season.
|LINE'S OVERALL GRADE|| |
There is a reason that Bruins head coach Claude Julien has no fear about rolling out his fourth line of Daniel Paille-Gregory Campbell-Shawn Thornton (and at times Jordan Caron as well) just as much in the playoffs as he did in the regular season. Julien trusts these players. They are arguably one of the best fourth lines in the NHL and in 2011-12 they had another solid season, creating energy and serving as the physical presence that reminds the opponents that the Bruins won't be pushed around. The one negative to this line would be that three of the four players were a minus and they're depended on for defensive play. But other than that they did their jobs.
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Joe McDonald, a native Rhode Islander, joined ESPNBoston.com as a Bruins and Red Sox reporter in February 2010. He worked at the Providence Journal for 18 years and covered the Red Sox, Bruins, Patriots, PawSox and Providence Bruins. He's a three-time winner of the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association's state Sportswriter of the Year for Rhode Island. Ask a question in our next Bruins mailbag. Follow him on Twitter here.