TORONTO, ON - Occasionally, there are stories surrounding the Bruins that can be easily recycled - Patrice Bergeron's faceoff prowess could be one, for example, and Milan Lucic's powerful, physical presence another. David Krejci's playmaking and Tuukka Rask's harrowing confidence between the pipes both fit into that category as well, with a host of others.
Each individual on the line brings certain facets to the game - Paille's speed rivals Seguin's, Campbell's puck protection shows in his relentlessness along the boards and in one-on-one battles, and Thornton may hold the toughness IQ for the Black & Gold, but - as evidenced with Monday night's dangle in on James Reimer - his hockey IQ is pretty high, too.
They don't always log the most minutes, and some come apart from one another - with Thornton logging 6:28 in ice-time in Monday's 5-2 win over the Leafs, Paille logging 10:07 and Campbell with 13:26; the latter two teaming up on the penalty kill, in addition to their five-on-five shifts as a line.
But it's their collective attitude that defines the trio, who have arguably redefined year after year - at least on the Bruins - the roll of the "fourth line."
TORONTO, ON - Following their 5-2 win over Toronto Monday night to take a 2-1 series lead, the Bruins held an optional skate at the Air Canada Centre Tuesday afternoon. While always even-keeled, and quickly shifting their focus from the Game 3 victory to the Game 4 task at hand, the Bruins were still visibly in a post-win mood as they went about their day at the ACC.
Sixteen Bruins hit the ice for the brief skate, led by the assistant coaches. Tuukka Rask stayed off the ice after his 46-save performance last night, with Anton Khudobin the goaltender on the ice for the workout.
Milan Lucic was the only member of his high-powered playoff line to take the ice, with David Krejci and Nathan Horton staying off, along with the line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and Tyler Seguin. Daniel Paille and Gregory Campbell wore their usual merlot, with Chris Kelly, Rich Peverley and Jaromir Jagr in their grey. Jay Pandolfo, Kaspars Daugavins and Carl Soderberg were all wearing the green jerseys.
Meanwhile, B's bench boss Claude Julien was available to the media a walk down from the locker room, and he was asked if there had been a seminal moment yet for him in this series.
"I'd say it's been a close series, it's pretty obvious when you look at - nevermind the score - but you look at how the game's been played," said Julien, of the tight series.
TORONTO, ON - Milan Lucic wanted to forget about his regular season.
So he finished his final two games of April with three points, landed five hits, and catapulted himself into postseason play, where the Bruins' powerful forward has put up six assists in just the first three games. That includes a three-assist, plus-three night on Monday en route to a 5-2 win in Toronto and the 2-1 series lead.
Though, anyone who watches the 6-foot-3, 230-pound forward play, knows that his game is much more than assists. He makes his presence felt, in a big, "Boston Bruins hockey" type of way.
On Monday, Lucic threw three recorded hits, and his heavy one on Leafs' winger Joffrey Lupul would have drawn cheers from a sea of Black & Gold, had Game 3 been in the confines of TD Garden. He also powered himself down the ice and fired five shots. He was a threat.
And it's hard to imagine him any other way.
"Milan was huge tonight, I think he was our best player out there," said his center, David Krejci following the 5-2 win. "I think he was making strong plays. Horty does what he does, big goal in a crucial moment. I'm just happy that those two guys are playing really well and just trying to fit in."
TORONTO, ON - The Bruins' success in recent years has come from being able to roll out a strong four-line effort.
When all 12 forwards are consistently bringing strong two-play and carrying the momentum from shift to shift, the Bruins are at their best - and quite often, unstoppable.
The lines centered by David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron know each other well. The 'Merlot Line' of Daniel Paille, Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton served a key role in 2011, and has set the tone for the Bruins with their mix of speed, toughness and battling that even allows them to play against the opponents' top lines.
Through the first two games of the first-round series with Toronto, the tempo has been there for Boston, but still, Coach Julien is looking for chemistry to be generated with his trio of Chris Kelly, Rich Peverley and Jaromir Jagr.
TORONTO, ON - With Game 3 on the horizon and the series knotted at 1-1, the Bruins held an optional skate Monday morning at the Air Canada Centre. Well, optional, as in, most of the Bruins opted to stick to their routine and take the ice prior to tonight's Game 3 against the Maple Leafs.
The B's assistant coaches ran the players through a series of drills, with all eight defensemen on, along with the 14 forwards and Anton Khudobin.
Prior to the Bruins' skate, Toronto held a close-to-full skate of their own, with seven defensemen on, 15 forwards and just Ben Scrivens, as James Reimer - like Rask - didn't take the ice for skate, but is expected to start Game 3.
"I think we just have to be a better team than we were last game," Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien said, simply, on what the Bruins need to do. "We had a lot breakdowns, you look at the goals that they scored, a lot of outnumbered situations that we gave up. When we play well, we don't give those, so we just need a better performance on our part of it."
"That's what we expect, we feel that we're a good enough team that if we play the type of hockey that we know we can, our chances are good."
Gregory Campbell hit the ice first, with a fresh sheet of ice and empty arena all to himself, before the Bruins began to trickle for the 11:00 a.m. practice.
Practice lines remained the same as Game 2:
Kaspars Daugavins, Carl Soderberg and Jay Pandolfo were in the green jerseys to round out the 15 forwards, with all eight defensemen and both goaltenders taking part in the practice.
Andrew Ference, who sat out Game 2 serving his one game suspension handed out from the league, was back in the top-six defensive pairings mix, alongside Johnny Boychuk. Zdeno Chara returned to his pairing with Dennis Seidenberg, and Adam McQuaid with Wade Redden.
BOSTON, MA – Dougie Hamilton doesn't get phased by much.
When the 19-year-old made his NHL debut, he was as cool and collected as could be. When he traveled to Toronto to make his first appearance as an NHLer in the confines of Air Canada Centre this season, he didn't feel overwhelmed by the hoard of media around him. His nerves were rightfully there, yes, but his demeanor, as calm as ever.
So it was no surprise Saturday night, when he got the call to slot in with Andrew Ference serving his one game suspension from the league, that the young B's blueliner was still his usual even-keeled self.
"I think he’s handled his first NHL game extremely well, I wouldn’t see it being a problem if that was the case," said Coach Julien Saturday morning, when asked how Hamilton would handle his playoff debut, if he were to get inserted into the lineup.
Game time rolled around, and Hamilton was in the lineup and again paired with the veteran, Wade Redden, as he had been during the Bruins' pregame skate at TD Garden, and set to make his debut.
BOSTON, MA - It was not the way the Bruins wanted to head into Toronto. But now the series is tied at one game apiece with Boston heading on the road, after falling to the Leafs, 4-2, at TD Garden on Saturday night.
In the Bruins' 4-1 win over Toronto in Game One last Wednesday, they dictated the pace of the game, carried a strong forecheck, showed their physicality. The Bruins were able to cause their own good fortune by creating turnovers and breaking the puck out quickly.
In Boston's Game Two loss, the Leafs' adjusted, came out harder, and created more space. After a strong first period by Tuukka Rask and a 1-0 lead in the second thanks to Nathan Horton's second postseason goal in as many games, the Bruins' mismanagement in their own ended up costing them.
"They were better, there’s no doubt there, and they played a much better game than they did in Game One and we didn’t play quite as well as we did in the first game," said Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien, of his take on Game Two.
"Certainly, they made some adjustments; we were prepared for those kinds of adjustments, but I think our execution wasn’t as good tonight."
The teams took different approaches to the quality time available, but with similar mindsets.
Boston, having had a tough end of six games in nine days to end the regular season, used Thursday for rest after their strong full-60 effort in Game One, before getting back to work Friday, and following that up with all Bruins on the ice for pregame skate Saturday morning at TD Garden.
Toronto, on the other hand, went right to work Thursday following their turnover-marred loss in which they simply couldn't match the intensity of the Bruins through the entire game, and continued that into their practice Friday at Boston University's Walter Brown Arena, before an optional skate Saturday morning.
Both teams have lineup adjustments to make. The Bruins are without Andrew Ference tonight, after he was suspended by the league for one game for an "illegal check to the head" on Mikhail Grabovski in Game One. Coach Julien said he has the option to place Dougie Hamilton or Matt Bartkowski (currently with Providence) on the back end.
BostonBruins.com - On Thursday evening, the NHL announced that Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference had been suspended for one game for "an illegal check to the head of Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mikhail Grabovski during Game One" on Wednesday.
With the veteran blueliner unavailable for Saturday's Game Two, Ference, for one, isn't too worried about his teammates stepping up in his absence.
"It's the decision that the league makes, as a player you deal with it, but as far as having a public opinion, I don't think it benefits any player to express any opinion about it," Ference said after taking part in Friday's practice at Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington.
"Like anybody that's gone through a process, you have a discussion with the league and Peter [Chiarelli] and we have a chance to give our thoughts to them and I think that's probably as far as it goes in these kind of matters. You just accept it and go on to the next game."
"Guys will step right in and it will be no problem," he added, on the Bruins' back end not missing a beat. "It's hockey, if it's an injury or something like this, guys have to step up and do the job."