No one does more with less than the Bruins’ energy line.
Case in point, Shawn Thornton, who has taken two faceoffs in the Eastern Conference Semifinals series with the New York Rangers has won both of them.
Thornton’s most recent faceoff win came in the third period of Game 3 Tuesday night. He beat Rangers center Derick Brassard clean in the right dot, and after Gregory Campbell fanned on a shot, Dougie Hamilton’s intentionally-wide shot from the right point started the scramble that ended with Daniel Paille’s game-winning goal with just 3:31 remaining in regulation.
The Bruins hung on for a 2-1 win and now lead the series 3-0 heading into Game 4 Thursday.
Thornton finished with two assists and a plus-2 rating in 6:42 of ice time. Campbell skated for 11:45 and had an assist and was plus-2. Paille added an assist to his goal and was plus-2 in 11:10. Sure, the Bruins got a friendly bounce on a rebound before Paille stuffed the puck in. But you have to work for your breaks, and Campbell’s line obviously did. And did I mention that Thornton and Campbell were the traffic in front of Henrik Lundqvist when Johnny Boychuk scored the game-tying goal with 3:10 elapsed in the last stanza?
It seems foolish to still be astonished by what Campbell’s line can accomplish. I’ve been watching them for three years. I witnessed in person how they dominated two shifts early in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final in Vancouver and saw how the Canucks went to their bench demoralized even before the Bruins started to bust that game open.
I’ve seen Thornton score on a penalty shot and Paille come back after a puck to the face made him look like Rocky Balboa. I once saw Campbell score a goal 3-on-5.
Yet we still talk about them as a grinding line, a fourth line, a bunch of blue-collar guys that give you little that shows up on the score sheet. Maybe that’s the best way to look at them. Except the least and get shocked when they do something extra.
The Bruins needed Campbell’s line more than ever in Game 3. With Daniel Girardi and Ryan McDonagh paired together for the first time in this series, and Nathan Horton trying to undo the contract push he put together in the first round, David Krejci’s line was slowed down. Patrice Bergeron’s line was snake-bit. Chris Kelly’s line continued to slump, despite breakaways by both Kelly and Tyler Seguin.
So it was left to the defense corps and Campbell’s line to solve Lundqvist, who was finally in Vezina Trophy form after giving up eight goals in the first two games.
Again, Campbell’s line came through. Seemingly the only thing that stopped that line in the regular season were the injuries that ravaged the lineup and forced Campbell, Paille and Thornton to break up. In the postseason, they’ve stuck together and won a great percentage of their shifts regardless of their matchup. They’re performance has been a far cry from really the only blemish on their record, which was last season’s first round against Washington. The Capitals’ fourth line won that series’ battle. This year it’s been the Campbell Line’s revenge.
Through 10 games, Paille has posted 2-2-4 totals, Campbell 1-2-3 and Thornton’s two assists in Game 3 were his first points of the postseason. Their effort guarantees at least another week or so of games for them to continue to turn true grit into true production.
What do Campbell, Thornton and Paille have in store for us going forward? Maybe a game-winner in a multiple-overtime game? Perhaps a hat trick? A cure for male pattern baldness?
At this point, I should know to expect anything, regardless of ice time or opponent. But I’ll probably just continue to write them off and then have to write at least one more of these columns before the Bruins’ playoff run is completed.