BOSTON — Maybe when David Krejci scored his game-winning goal Monday night he was a little more rested than he’d normally be 14 minutes into overtime.
For the first time in four overtime games during this season’s Stanley Cup playoffs, Bruins head coach Claude Julien doled out two shifts in the extra session to his fourth line of Daniel Paille, Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton.
The trio enjoyed one solid shift with little excitement in the Bruins’ win that put them up 2-0 in the Eastern Conference semifinal series with Philadelphia. The three hard-nosed veterans then survived a lengthy second shift against the high-octane offensive line of Nikolay Zherdev, Claude Giroux and James van Riemsdyk.
“It’s not easy,” said Campbell today, after an off-ice workout at TD Garden, about being used so sparingly. “Obviously we want to be a part of it. … We’re confident in ourselves as a line. Sometimes when you sit there, and things are happening so fast out there and it’s such a pressure-filled thing when you’re out there in overtime. The last thing you want to do is go out there and get scored on or have chances against.
“I thought the one shift we had was pretty good; the other shift we sort of got hemmed in a little bit. But at the end of the shift there wasn’t that many point-blank chances. We kind of kept it to the outside. They did have one point-blank possession. But I thought we did a pretty good job considering we were sent out there to take a little bit of the heat off the top three lines that had been playing quite a bit.”
Surviving such a high-pressure shift is a credit to not only the three grinders’ abilities but their veteran experience.
“I feel great out there. I know our whole line’s confident,” said Paille. “We moved the puck real well. When we were in the D zone running around a little bit, we were still calm and felt pretty composed.”
The Flyers have similarly used their fourth line for spot duty in this series.
With the Bruins up 2-0, it could be a short series. But should Philadelphia get back in and extend the series, the fourth line’s shifts could become even more important for conserving the energy of the Bruins’ top guns. At some point, Boston might even need its energy line to chip in at some point.
Regardless, if it’s rest for teammates that the fourth-line players have to provide, they’ll do whatever it takes.