The Boston Bruins’ fourth line was one of the team’s major weaknesses through the first two months of the season.
Daniel Paille, Gregory Campbell and Simon Gagne combined forÂ just four points (two goals, two assists) entering December. Gagne and Paille each tallied one point in November, while Campbell was scoreless in the month’s 12 games.
The line also struggled to help Boston control puck possession despite starting over 50 percent of its even-strength shifts in the attacking zone through the first 24 games of the campaign.
|5v5 Corsi||Corsi Rel %||Corsi %||Off. Zone Start %|
To the line’s credit, its performance has improved over the last week, and the hard work finally was rewarded in Monday night’s 3-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center.
Boston’s fourth line was one of its most effective throughout the game and even played well against Anaheim’s top line, which features superstars Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, as well as red-hot goal scorer Matt Beleskey.
|5v5 TOI Against||Paille||Campbell||Gagne|
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After the Ducks doubled their lead to 3-1 with Beleskey’s 12th goal of the season, the Bruins made a strong push to get back into the game. The fourth line led the charge and trimmed Anaheim’s lead to a single goal when Gagne scored at 10:20 of the third period. Paille made a nice feed to Gagne in front of the net, and the veteran winger capitalized for his 600th career NHL point.
Campbell (plus-6), Gagne (plus-5) and Paille (plus-2) also helped Boston control puck possession (55 Corsi for, 47 against) at even strength.
The Bruins need more of these types of performances from the fourth line because injuries to key players are testing the team’s scoring depth. One of the hallmarks of Boston’s success since 2010-11 has been its ability to roll four lines and not be afraid to match up the fourth line against opponents’ top trios.
The Paille-Campbell-Gagne line cannot be a liability if the Bruins are going to contend for the Stanley Cup this season. It must contribute offensively and not be consistently out-shot.
— Rookie winger David Pastrnak picked up an assist on Brad Marchand’s first-period goal for his first career NHL point.
— Marchand’s goal was his first since Nov. 4 and his sixth of the season. He now leads the B’s in goals scored.
— Boston’s penalty kill was fantastic. It went 3-for-3 and out-shot the Anaheim power play 5-1.
— Sami Vatanen pounced on a rebound in the second period and scored his sixth goal of the season. He now has more goals than all Ducks defensemen combined (5) this season.
— Here’s the shot attempt chart for all situations. Boston had a 79-56 advantage with special teams included and a 55-47 edge atÂ even strength.
Thumbnail photo viaÂ Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports Images