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Fourth Line In Name Only...

Boston's grinders consistently contribute

Saturday, 11.15.2008 / 9:09 AM / Features
By Angela Stefano  - BostonBruins.com
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Fourth Line In Name Only...
Boston, MA -- Despite dominating in regular-season play all through last year, the Montreal Canadiens were complimentary of the Bruins even prior to the B's 6-1 victory.

Michael Komisarek, however, seemed to forget about three forwards.

“It seems like they’ve been running three lines, a pretty balanced attack,” he said. “They have some guys that are really playing with confidence.”

Komisarek probably just misspoke, but after Thursday night’s 6-1 Bruins victory, none of the Habs will be forgetting the Bruins fourth line of Shawn Thornton, Stephane Yelle and Chuck Kobasew any time soon.

“We’ve worked hard on the line all season, and we’ve had some chances,” said Yelle.  “On a night like [last night] when you get a few goals, that’s a big thing.”

The threesome was at the heart of all the action from beginning to end, netting half of the B’s six goals. Just 2:31 into the opening period, Thornton tossed the puck past Carey Price for the B’s first goal of the night.  It was originally recorded as an unassisted goal, but Yelle later received a point for an assist.

The goal was Thornton’s first of the season and also his first goal since March 25, 2008.

“It’s been a while,” said the smiling forward after the game. “I don’t know how many shots you get point-blank, so it’s nice to get that monkey off my back.”

Scoring first, and so early, was also a key confidence booster for the entire team.

“We’ve always seemed to be behind the eight ball with this team, and to get the lead that early was nice,” said head coach Claude Julien. “Sometimes you need a break, and we got it.”

Yelle earned credit for the line’s other two goals, one of which came with three minutes remaining in the first.  Kobasew and Thornton earned the assists. The second goal, with 11:16 left in the game, was a slapshot from the left face off circle.

“He’s always in the right spot, and I know I can just throw the puck where he’s supposed to be, and he’ll be there,” said Thornton. “Half the time, I don’t even have to look.”

Kobasew may not have earned any more tallies in his “G” column, but he made his presence known by essentially using his body as a blocker time and again – an 110% kind of play, which is probably why he recently finished nursing a broken leg.

Chuck, who just recently stepped in for Petteri Nokelainen, who had also been playing very well on the B's energy line, has been playing like that forever.

Fans at Boston College and Lowell have seen it, and now the fans (and his linemates) on Causeway Street are enjoying it, too.

“He just works it out, keeps it simple,” said Yelle of his linemate’s style of play, which he thinks is similar to his own.  “He’s a physical presence out there; he’s got good wheels.  He creates a lot of space out there, and that’s what we need

“He’s been on the second line with every other team,” added Thornton, “and he’s worked so hard, and he’s such a skilled guy.”

The fourth line’s play as of late has impressed their teammates, who recognized the importance of having an extra line to share the work.

“[They’ve been] keeping the puck down low, really working hard and giving us basically a great advantage of using the whole lineup,” said captain Zdeno Chara.  “That’s huge, especially with our heavy schedule like this.

“Otherwise, we would be exhausted."

Even more important was that the victory was a whole-team effort.  Just because the fourth line stepped up didn’t mean that another group of forwards eased off.

“I don’t think there were any passengers tonight, and I don’t think there have been for a while,” said Thornton.  “The old ‘everyone’s got to believe in the system,’ is true.

“Everyone’s believing in it, and it’s paying off.”

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