BOSTON, MA – The Bruins played as good of a game on Wednesday night, in Game One of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against Toronto, as they did the entire regular season. The B’s dominated the Maple Leafs, taking a 4-1 win over Toronto, outshooting them, 40-20, along the way.
The Bruins were doing everything hard: skating, forechecking, backchecking, going to the net. It was picture perfect playoff hockey. Leading the way in all of those areas of the game was the Merlot Line. Gregory Campbell, Daniel Paille, and Shawn Thornton created tons of energy and physicality for the Black & Gold, as they have so many times before.
The combo of Campbell and Paille helped to set up Wade Redden’s goal that tied the game at one at 16:20 of the first period, after Toronto had gone up 1-0 just 1:54 into the game thanks to a James van Riemsdyk power-play goal. Campbell dumped the puck into the right corner and went hard after it, as did Paille.
Campbell was able to win the puck and take it to the net, but his shot went through the crease and ended up right on Redden’s stick at the left point. Redden then let a slapper go from the top of the left circle to tie things at 1-1.
“I think we were pretty good,” said Campbell of his line’s effort against Toronto. “At times, I guess that’s our job a lot of the time, is to create energy, is to change momentum, and just be hard to play against.
“It’s important to be hard on the puck and win battles and do little things well in the playoffs, and that’s kind of the M.O. of our line.”
B’s Head Coach Claude Julien has shown an enormous amount of trust in his “fourth line” over the years. In 2011, during the Stanley Cup Finals, Julien played the trio against the Canucks’ top line at times. The B’s coach said the line takes pride in the role that they play.
“The one thing about that line – I said that right after the game – they seem to relish that role, they really get excited and pumped about playoff hockey,” said the B’s bench boss. “They really enjoy the role that’s given to them. When we played a couple years ago in Vancouver, they were playing against the Sedin brothers [Daniel and Henrik], that’s how much confidence I had in them.
“When they’re at the top of their game, and they play a smart game, most of the time they keep the other lines bottled into their D-zone. They certainly helped us, but at the same time, as I mentioned, I thought our others lines did a great job. It was a real good job on our part to have all the lines contributing in a way.
“I didn’t feel like our team sagged at any time in the game; we kept the tempo and control where we wanted it to be.
Campbell felt that this kind of an effort was building for a while, and tonight the team came together to pull out the win and take a 1-0 series lead.
“I think we played more as a team,” said No.11. “We played within the system and ultimately got more accomplished. As I said, it’s a different brand of hockey, the playoffs. It’s a lot faster, more physical, and those types of games I think we thrive in.
“It’s something that you have to be more mentally and physically prepared for. There’s enough leadership and veteran presence in the room to know that, as I said, it’s a different brand. You have to be ready right from the drop of the puck and be consistent and stay with that.”
David Krejci, who netted the B’s third goal and registered two assists, was happy to finally see a complete game effort, from the entire lineup.
“We haven’t had many of those, but it felt pretty good,” said the center, “The full 60 minutes. We got good play from all four lines. We’ve got to just keep going.”