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Saturday, January 26, 2013
Vintage performance by B's merlot line

By Joe McDonald

BOSTON -- Without the relentless style of play by the Boston Bruins' fourth line during Friday's 4-2 win over the New York Islanders at TD Garden, the game could have had an entirely different outcome.

The efforts of Shawn Thornton, Gregory Campbell and Daniel Paille kept the Bruins in the game even though the rest of the team struggled through two sloppy periods. From a team standpoint, Boston recuperated in the final period en route to the win.

Shawn Thornton
Shawn Thornton was both scorer and enforcer Friday, a winning formula for the Bruins.
Thornton had a goal in the first period, and Campbell added the game-tying tally in the second period before teammates Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron added a goal each in the third period.

"Right now, our fourth line is our best line," Chara said. "They're getting rewarded because they're playing exactly the way we need from them, so they're our best line right now."

Whether you call it the merlot line (for the color of their practice jerseys) or the energy line, the trio has made a major impact for the Bruins ever since the team won the Stanley Cup in 2011.

"We've always said that they've been huge and they give us some momentum on the ice with great plays, but also with big goals, and again [Friday] was the same perfect example," Chara said.

All three have contributed individually and, more importantly, collectively.

"We have been playing together for the last two years, which is a rare thing in hockey," explained Campbell. "We get along off the ice, which is good because it transfers on the ice. We accept our role and know our role. Sometimes, it is not an easy job, but we are willing to help the team. It's a role that we take pride in."

Four games in to the lockout-shortened, 48-game schedule, the Bruins are 3-0-1. Campbell is tied for the team lead in points (three) with one goal and two assists.

"I'm just trying to contribute," Campbell said after Friday's game. "I felt like I worked hard in the lockout in the last four months, and I feel good right now. As I said, I am just trying to contribute, whether it's goals or assists, it really doesn't matter. It's about helping the team win."

During the first period of Friday's game, the Islanders' Matt Martin tried to get Paille to fight after his clean hit on New York's Brian Strait. Paille dropped the gloves, but Thornton quickly jumped in to protect his linemate. For his actions, Thornton received a 10-minute misconduct.

"Everyone is used to seeing that from Thorty," Campbell said. "He has a tough job, and everyone in here respects him tremendously. I think it goes without say on this team to have each other's back. Paille's hit was clean. I guess team toughness is an important aspect of a hockey team."

Even though Thornton didn't officially throw a punch in the scrum, the Bruins generally have success when their enforcer drops the gloves. In fact, Boston is 45-16-9 when he receives a fighting major. Even more impressive, the Bruins are 21-4 when Thornton has scored a goal during his career in Boston.

Paille's contributions may seem to go unnoticed at times, but his teammates know exactly how important his play is for the success of the team. When he plays with confidence, he's a dangerously good player.

When all three hop the boards, something good usually happens, especially in the first four games this season.

"They've always taken pride in doing that for our team in the past. And again, [Friday] they're the ones that were doing the right things," said Bruins coach Claude Julien. "And both goals that they scored they had somebody in front of the net. So you know, Thorty on the first one, and Soupy on the second goal. So things that our other lines weren't doing for two periods, and you know once we got ourselves going we were a lot better. They set the example I guess for the rest of the team for the third period."