BostonBruins.com – Over the past week, the depth of the Bruins has been tested. Injuries to Brad Marchand and fourth-liners Shawn Thornton and Daniel Paille, have forced Head Coach Claude Julien to mix and match players and piece together lines with call-ups from Providence over the past two games.
So far, it doesn’t appear that the Bruins have missed a beat. The Black & Gold beat Montreal, 2-1, Wednesday night and have won two straight games – they beat Toronto, 1-0, on Saturday – without Paille, Thornton, or Marchand.
With Gregory Campbell moving up to fill Marchand’s left wing spot on the second line, the Merlot Line featured a brand new trio. Lane MacDermid, Jamie Tardif, and Ryan Spooner, all recently recalled from Providence, filled in and fit their roles in the Bruins’ come-from-behind victory over the Canadiens, that propelled them into sole possession of first place in the Eastern Conference.
Against Toronto, Chris Bourque, another Providence call-up (though he has been with Boston since training camp) was able to contribute with the lone goal – his first as a Bruin – in the B’s win. Wednesday night, his line, made up of Chris Kelly and Rich Peveley continued their strong play, creating scoring chances and contributing big minutes on special teams.
“Sometimes you just need the right opportunity,” said Bourque before Wednesday’s game. “When you're up [in Boston], you've got to play well and capitalize on the opportunities that you get. This year, I think I've done a decent job of it, and the team is playing really well, so that helps.”
MacDermid, Tardif, and Spooner, who was making his NHL Debut, brought energy, especially early in the game, when the Bruins were struggling to find some rhythm. It was the first time any member of the line had played in Montreal; for many, playing at the Bell Centre for the first time can be a daunting task.
Spooner took it all in stride, however, and while the skilled centerman may not be used to playing on an energy-type line, he stepped up and did what the coaching staff asked him to do.
“I was pretty nervous to start, but after I got my first shift under my belt I felt pretty good,” said Spooner following the game. “That’s a role that I’m not used to, but obviously when I come up here, I do what they want me to.”
Julien told the line before the game to play relaxed and enjoy their first taste of the Montreal-Boston rivalary – it was the 718th meeting between the two clubs – but to make sure they were on their toes.
“They were,” said Julien, when asked after the game about the fourth-line providing a boost early on. “I told them to go out there and play like they play anywhere else and have some fun doing it. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, just play on your toes and they did just that.”
The B’s bench boss explained that it was hard to put the line out on the ice late in the game, because Habs’ coach Michel Therrien matched his top line against the trio. But, Julien was pleased with the line’s work when they had a chance.
“They did such a great job, they allowed us to have a power play with their hard work,” he said. “It was tough to put them on the ice tonight because their coach kept putting their top line [out] the minute I put them on the ice. They were smart, a couple of times made some good changes, but when they had the opportunity to be out there, they did a great job.”
Despite all of the changes to the lineup of late, and players coming up from Providence, the Bruins still have confidence that they can win, no matter what the situation is. They believe in the players that are filling in, and over the past two games, it has shown.
“I think the guys that have come into the lineup have done a great job,” said defenseman Adam McQuaid, following Wednesday’s morning skate. “We have confidence in them, and I think that they have confidence in themselves.
“We're pretty fortunate that we have depth that way. It gives some other guys opportunities to play bigger roles.”