Gregory Campbell, Merlot Line ‘trying to gain that trust from the coaching staff’
|03.06.14 at 11:09 pm ET|
Gregory Campbell is never going to be mistaken for a goal-scorer, but he’s been doing a pretty good impression of one these last four games.
Early in the second period of Thursday’s game against Washington, Campbell planted himself in front of the net during an offensive-zone possession and then redirected a Patrice Bergeron one-timer through his own legs and over Braden Holtby‘s right arm for his fourth goal in as many games.
While the goal didn’t come with the entire Merlot Line on the ice (Bergeron had replaced Shawn Thornton to provide a faceoff security blanket on a defensive-zone draw), it did continue a recent upward swing in the fourth line’s effectiveness.
“We’re doing a lot better,” Campbell said of his line. “We’re working hard and trying to work off of each other. Our other three lines have been playing really well and contributing on a nightly basis, and everybody knows that all four lines producing in the playoffs is a good recipe.”
The Bruins don’t need Campbell, Thornton and Daniel Paille to score every game, but they’re hoping this recent stretch of offensive success will build some momentum so the Bruins don’t suffer any letdowns in their play when the fourth line is on the ice.
The trio has never really been a great possession line, but when they’re at the best, they’ve been able to dump the puck in, create some chaos on the forecheck, and turn that into an offensive chance or two before they go for a change.
That’s something they had been missing in late January and early February, when they went seven straight games with a Corsi percentage under .500 and scored just two goals during that span.
“They’re just more in sync,” Claude Julien said. “I think when you watch them play now… they were a little erratic there at some points, and because of that, they were spending more time in their own end than they did at the other end of the ice.”
With six back-to-backs in March and two more in April, the Bruins knew they were going to need the fourth line to take on more ice time to prevent the other three lines from getting overworked. Campbell and his longtime wingers wanted to make sure they made the most of those minutes and showed Julien they were up to the challenge.
“The coaching staff and Claude are always fair to us,” Campbell said. “The harder we work, we tend to get rewarded more with ice time, and the more responsible we are, the more confidence he has in us as a line. He has no problem playing us if we’re playing well and he can trust us.
“So we’re trying to gain that trust from the coaching staff, and we’ve done it time and time again. I think that we’re getting back to that point where we can be out there and contribute.”