In the last two days, we’ve heard a lot of buzz about the improvised third line. That line was forged out of necessity due to injury. (Merlot Man Gregory Campbell) Bruins coach Claude Julien later claimed the line configuration was based on a ‘hunch’. Call it whatever you want Bruins Nation, that hunch turned out to be a moment of genius for the Black and Gold. The Bruins have put up three of their last four goals (including the game winner in OT for game two) due to the hard-charging attitude of this new line.
Credit has to be given to the Bruins organization. They had the smarts to bring on Claude Julien back in 2007, and they have been rewarded with a post season appearance every year since. The adaptability of Julien’s system allows any forward or defensemen to interchange with little need for re-acclimation. Any player could have pulled to make that third line, but the three in particular make the line seem that much more inspired.
Tyler Seguin was last year’s scoring leader with sixty seven points (twenty nine goals). During the lockout, Tyler was one of the Bruins that went overseas to play in Europe. He ended up in the Swiss A League playing for EHC Biel-Bienne. He proceeded to dominate over there with help from a certain Blackhawks winger, Patrick Kane. Then he came back home, and just couldn’t seem to put it together for the first half of the season. While he did end up tied for third overall in scoring in the regular season (thirty two points, sixteen goals), a lot of people felt was underperforming.
Chris Kelly has had the unenviable task of being the center for the only one of the Bruins lines that just didn’t seem to click in the regular season. The other three Bruins lines had their identities and a pretty solid configuration. This season however, the third line seemed to be the never ending way station for Bruins players coming in from Providence, or moving up and down as performance dictated. Some configurations worked in the short term, but overall the third line seemed to get hit with the lions’ share of bad nights on the ice. Kelly one had nine points (three goals) and a -8 at the end of the regular season.
Daniel Paille has suddenly turned into the breakout star for the Boston Bruins. At the beginning of the season, hearing Jack Edwards scream “and here’s a breakaway by Daniel Paille!” would have made some of us look at the TV sort of funny. He was the left wing of the Merlot Men, and did a good job as a fourth liner. His speed was an excellent asset to the tougher Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton, and over the last few years, they were acknowledged by other clubs as being the best fourth line in the NHL. As the injuries started to accumulate in the season, Daniel Paille found himself moving up the lines as needed, where he met or exceeded the coach’s expectations.
I call them the ‘Full Meal’ line. Seguin brings the firepower to this line. He leads the team with sixty seven shots in the post season. He’s not just firing on the net blindly. His shots are usually good chances, it’s just a pity he has only gotten one goal in so far going into game four of the finals. (Since Seguin is popular with the ladies, I’ve dubbed him the ‘meat’ element.) Kelly is an excellent center who (in my opinion) needed to great wingers to make the magic happen for him. He’s steady, has an excellent work ethic and has just been that beast on the penalty kill in the post-season. (He’s the ‘potato’ element.) Paille brings speed to match Seguin, and a great ability to break up counter attacks in the neutral zone. He’s suddenly become the poster boy of the Bruins and it’s totally deserved.
I don’t even want to get started on how much I think Daniel Paille got robbed of this year’s 7th Player Award. No offense meant Dougie Hamilton. You’re a great player, but you didn’t have the season Paizy did.
No guesses on whether or not the third line will remain intact going into the ’13-’14 season. I hope the Bruins take a serious look at this line, and make a point of trying to keep it together. Maybe Thornton and Campbell can teach Jordan Caron or Kaspers Daugavins how to throw down in the off season.