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Reunited Merlot Line looking to help Bruins

by Matt Kalman

BOSTON – Boston Bruins forward Matt Fraser made an immediate impression with an overtime goal in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Second Round against the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday.

But Fraser's impact skating next to center Carl Soderberg and right wing Loui Eriksson might be further revealed as the best-of-7 series heads back to Boston for Game 5 on Saturday at TD Garden (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS). It is tied 2-2.

With Fraser on Soderberg's line, left wing Daniel Paille was able to shift back to his spot on the Merlot Line with center Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton. Since the Bruins' Stanley Cup championship season in 2010-11, that line has consistently contributed in important games. In the past four seasons, it has rarely been broken up because of suspension, injury or the occasional line juggle by coach Claude Julien.

Paille, Campbell and Thornton hadn't been together as a group since April 5. In their reunion in Game 4 in Montreal, the line failed to register a shot on net but landed seven hits and seemed to get better as the game went on.

"I thought we were OK in the second [period]," Thornton said. "[In] the first, for whatever it was, I didn't feel like we had much of a rhythm. I thought we had a good second but I think we can be a lot better. We hadn't been together in a while though, so I think there's nowhere to go but up."

Playing on a line with Soderberg and Eriksson, Paille scored a goal in Game 2, his only point of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Thornton has one assist and Campbell has no points in the playoffs.

Paille is hopeful that any kinks that slowed their return to form have been ironed out.

"At this point of the year, it shouldn't matter," Paille said. "But I think we've had a couple days here to kind of reassess and talk to each other and get things back to normal."

Forward Milan Lucic was the only Bruins player missing from morning skate Saturday. He was seen in the locker room after the skate and is expected to play.

Here are the projected lineups:


Max PaciorettyDavid DesharnaisBrendan Gallagher

Michael BournivalTomas PlekanecThomas Vanek

Rene BourqueLars EllerBrian Gionta

Travis MoenDaniel BriereDale Weise

Josh Gorges - P.K. Subban

Andrei MarkovAlexei Emelin

Francis BouillonMike Weaver

Carey Price

Peter Budaj

Scratched: Douglas Murray, Jarred Tinordi, Nathan Beaulieu, Brandon Prust, George Parros, Ryan White

Injured: Alex Galchenyuk (lower body)


Milan LucicDavid KrejciJarome Iginla

Brad MarchandPatrice BergeronReilly Smith

Matt FraserCarl SoderbergLoui Eriksson

Daniel PailleGregory CampbellShawn Thornton

Zdeno CharaDougie Hamilton

Matt BartkowskiJohnny Boychuk

Torey KrugKevan Miller

Tuukka Rask

Chad Johnson

Scratched: Jordan Caron, Andrej Meszaros, Corey Potter

Injured: Chris Kelly (back), Dennis Seidenberg (ACL/MCL), Adam McQuaid (ankle)

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