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A Pretty Good Third Line

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
OTTAWA, ON -- For much of the last two seasons, the Bruins energy line (a.k.a. the Merlot Line) have been a key part of Boston's "hard to play against" mindset. Often pitting brute strength against many highly skilled players, the trio has confounded and frustrated opponents and allowed Head Coach Claude Julien the luxury of consistently rolling four lines in most situations.

Their ability to be game-changers has even led many hockey pundits to say that the work of the B's usual fourth line (sorry Shawn) would make the trio of left wing Daniel Paille, center Gregory Campbell and right wing Shawn Thornton a good third line on many teams in the NHL.

But with Nathan Horton and Rich Peverley down with injuries and with AHL call-ups like Carter Camper, Jordan Caron and Josh Hennessy occupying spots on the roster, the Merlot WAS the B's third line on Friday in Buffalo.

"Yeah, you know I thought we had a pretty solid, complete 60 minutes – 65 actually," said Campbell, who played 14:38 in the B's 2-1 shootout setback to the Sabres. "Sometimes games are going to go like that – we played really well and had some chances.

"The first couple periods we weren’t doing our due diligence to get traffic and make it as hard as we wanted to on Miller, and then in the third period we started getting more bodies and pucks on net and I think that gave him a little bit more trouble.

"We’ve done pretty well in the shootouts this year and unfortunately it didn’t go our way this time."

All of the members of Campbell's line have said they want to contribute more offense to the cause, but Coach Julien has pointed out that the energy line's mission gets muddled when they get off task.

Last night, however, one goal would have made all the difference and none of the trio's six shots found the back of the net.

"It certainly is, it’s a tough job for [Bergeron] and [Krejci's] lines to do it night in and night out," said Campbell, with a hint of anger in his tone. "I want to help out in that aspect, I know Paisy and Thorty do as well.

"We’ve been trying, but we can try harder and do a little more to try to chip in a goal here and there.

"It certainly is frustrating," added Campbell. "But we as individuals have to find a way because in a game like that it would be a huge boost for our team.

"I know it was 1-1 and we tied it up, but if we could chip in a goal that goes a long way."

That said, the Merlot (and that is exactly what Head Coach Claude Julien calls the line during practices) continue to be one of the most consistent factors in the Bruins arsenal and their work is certainly emblematic of the spoked-B on their jersey, the organization and the city.

"Death, taxes and Merlot..." may be the line's repeated phrase, but for the men who toil in the corners for the Boston Bruins the saying is more than a motto. It's a mantra - they want to be counted on, day-in and day-out, and set the tone for their team, especially when times are tough.

"Yeah it’s been a while since we strung together two pretty complete games," said Campbell of the Bruins. "We had a 60- minute effort in St. Louis, and our goal now is to build momentum.

"Obviously, we have a big series against Ottawa the next couple games and we want top lay a solid game with a desperate team over there – a team that’s still clinging to hope for a playoff position. And we want to keep rising and solidify our position in the top of the standings.

"With 20 or so games left, that’s the challenge you face – desperate teams and close games. Every team has a reason to play right now – whatever reason that may be. We’re starting to find our game, slowly but surely and we just have to build on that."
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