The Bruins have broken their losing streak, but have they broken out of the mess that still has them at the bottom of the Eastern Conference?
The B’s 5-3 win over the Senators Tuesday had most of the fixings of a victory from a season ago. There was solid scoring (the five-spot they put up made for their most productive offensive night aside from their 6-2 win over the Maple Leafs on Oct. 20), a pair of fights (both Shawn Thornton and Gregory Campbell dropped the gloves for the B’s) and strong enough play in their own end to give Ottawa a quiet night despite the three fluky goals they were able to get past Tim Thomas.
In the end, the Bruins will take two points any way they can get them, but Tuesday’s performance was by no means an indication that they’re out of the woods. Though Milan Lucic was able to score on the power play on a nice backhander he roofed upon picking up a puck in front, the first line of Lucic, David Krejci and Nathan Horton had its fair share of sloppy moments. There was also some uncharacteristically poor decision-making on the part of Tyler Seguin, who botched an ill-advised drop-pass while on a breakaway in the first period and failed to capitalize on quite a few opportunities early on. In the end, the B's scored a lot of goals against a team that allows a lot of goals and was seemingly long overdue for a loss given its goaltending and horrid penalty kill. It wasn’t perfect, but it was a win. Maybe it was the beginning of a turnaround.
“That’s something that we’ve talked about, that we’ve put ourselves in that situation and we were the only ones who could get out of it,” said Patrice Bergeron, who extended his point streak to give games. “We had to use all the frustration and all that stuff that we’ve been feeling and use it to your advantage instead of getting down on [ourselves]. “That’s the only way you can get out of those things. And you know what, it’s only one game. So, we’re happy but we have a long ways still.”
The Bruins won’t be able to get right back out there in an attempt to quickly string some wins together. They’ll next play Saturday in Toronto. That’s a good thing for a team that has admitted the short summer makes them appreciate off-days when they can get them, but a bad thing for a team that needs momentum. At any rate, the Bruins can at least keep the win fresh in their minds as they practice throughout the rest of the week.
“It's one game, but it's definitely a steppingstone in the right direction,” Chris Kelly said after the win. “Hopefully we can build off this and have a couple of good practices before we go into Toronto.”
LIKE A 2010 BOTTLE OF MERLOT
Last season, the Bruins’ fourth line turned heads when Gregory Campbell, Shawn Thornton and Brad Marchand (before he was promoted to the second line)/Daniel Paille proved they could do more than simply grind out shifts and, in Thornton and Campbell’s case, drop the gloves when necessary. Thornton put together a career year, his first 10-goal campaign. Campbell put up his best numbers since the season he was a third-liner in Florida. The whole line’s unwillingness to relent on the forecheck even proved invaluable in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals when the trio of Thornton, Campbell and Paille turned in a first-period shift that arguable swung momentum in the Bruins’ favor after they came out dragging.
As it has been with most things on the Bruins, this year has been different. The “Merlot Line” (named after their burgundy practice jerseys) hadn’t found the back of the net through the season’s first 10 games. Paille had a gaggle of opportunities early in the season, but had just one goal -- a shorthanded tally -- to show for it.
That changed Tuesday. On a night in which both Thornton and Campbell fought, the line also got its first goal.
With a puck from Campbell in the Bruins’ zone slowly making its way to the blue line, Thornton quickly sent it up to Paille, who had exploded past Sergei Gonchar and had a breakaway by the time was on his stick. Unlike previous opportunities for the winger, Paille cashed in, sending a wrist shot through the 5-hole of Anderson. It was the first point of the season for both Thornton and Campbell.
"We had tons of chances throughout the first 10 games," Paille said. "They didn’t go in, and obviously it happens throughout the year. It was just unforunate that it happened [right away]. Hopefully it’s a good start for us to get back into the game and into the season.“
By last season’s standards, this is a slow start for the Bruins’ fourth line. Few expected them to be as good offensively a season ago, and Thornton is confidence that his line has turned a corner and be every bit as good as it was in the team’s Cup-winning campaign.
“We expect a lot from ourselves,” Thornton said. “We don’t really give a [dropping] what people on the outside think. … Work ethic is never a problem with our line, so it’s nice to be rewarded with it every now and again.”
Though Claude Julien has received some criticism from some for his preference to roll four lines, there’s no denying that when the fourth line is doing everything it can do, it’s worth having out there. Their motors and toughness make up for whatever they lack in top-end skill, but teams learned last season not to snooze on the fact that they can also score.