Is it time for the Bruins to split up the Merlot Men?


Apr 4, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Bruins forward

Gregory Campbell

(11) congratulates forward

Jaromir Jagr

(68) following a victory over the New Jersey Devils at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Michael Ivins-USA TODAY Sports

For the last few years the Boston Bruins have made it into the playoffs. One of the biggest reasons is that the Bruins can play four lines. For all of us faithful fans, we are disillusioned by that. Last few years we’ve had three great lines. (The Bergeron line, the Krejci line, and the Merlot Men.) The Bruins used those lines to get all the way to game six of the Stanley Cup Final where the Blackhawks gave us a big case of heartache in just seventeen seconds.

The Bruins chose to re-vamp the lines in the off-season. The Bruins traded away problem child Tyler Seguin to Dallas in exchange for Loui Eriksson. Rich Peverley, part of the much maligned third line also headed to Texas in that trade.  Nathan Horton chose to enter free agency in order to find a smaller market team that could afford him. He ended up in Columbus. He had shoulder surgery last week that will keep him out for four to six months. Boston decided to take another look at Jarome Iginla and was able to make him an offer.

It’s pretty clear that Eriksson will fill in Seguin’s hole, and Iginla will fill in Horton’s. It is safe to say that the Bruins broke even or even improved their ferocious top six forwards. With all the shake-ups in the roster though, the Bruins still seem to be lacking punch in the Bruins third line.

Perhaps it’s time to move up several of the Merlot Men.

Daniel Paille was a former first round draft pick that has done a good job for us on the fourth line.  The Bruins needed Paille to move up several times in the season to make up for injuries, and he worked hard not to disappoint them. He did an even better job in the playoffs. All four of his goals were either short handed scores, or game winners. He became part of that improvised ‘Full Meal’ line (with Chris Kelly and Tyler Seguin) that showed his versatility and how smart the Claude Julien system is. It’s time for Paille to take off the Merlot and move on up to third.

Gregory Campbell. Any Bruins fan (and quite a few who aren’t) are reading this and are remembering. Campbell broke his leg blocking a shot during the Eastern Conference Finals and stayed on the ice and did everything in his power to help for forty five seconds. Here it is again. Campbell was having an excellent run in the post season.  Campbell had also moved up during the season to fill in for injuries. I really liked his work when he was paired with Jaromir Jagr and Brad Marchand. The timetable for Campbell’s injuries have him coming back just in time for training camp, and his hard work should be rewarded with a promotion as well.

There is a case to be made about promoting Shawn Thornton as well. While the case isn’t as strong as the one for Campbell or Paille per se, this is another player that steps up when needed and can surprise a lot of other teams on how versatile he is. (Not just in the punching department.)

Perhaps it’s time to move Kelly down to the fourth line and give one(or more) of the Merlot men a chance to move up in the roster and invigorate the weakest line of the Black and Gold.

Jun 19, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Bruins left wing Daniel Paille (20) celebrates after a goal by center

Patrice Bergeron

(not pictured) past Chicago Blackhawks goalie

Corey Crawford

(50) during the third period in game four of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports