The Merlot will taste pretty sweet for Shawn Thornton, Daniel Paille and Gregory Campbell after Wednesday’s performance.
During their time as a unit, the trio’s goal is always the same: provide the Bruins with energy if needed. It’s safe to say they accomplished that goal in Game 1 of the team’s best of seven series with the Toronto Maple Leafs at the TD Garden. The Merlot Line combined for two assists and 10 hits – including five from Thornton – in the Bruins’ 4-1 victory.
The line was motivated alright.
When James van Riemsdyk scored the game’s first goal 1:54 into the contest, head coach Claude Julien called the trio to get into action.
They did just that as Thornton threw his weight around, while Campbell went to the dirty area and Paille’s speed put the Leafs’ defense on its heels all night. Campbell and Paille were also instrumental on each of the Bruins’ last two penalty kills. When needed, the unit provided several scoring chances and kept goaltender James Reimer at bay.
It’s safe to say that Julien was appreciative of their efforts.
“The one thing about that line, I said right after the game, they seem to relish that role, they really get excited and pumped about playoff hockey. They really enjoy the role that’s given to them,” he said. “When they’re on top of their game – and they play a smart game – most of the time, they keep the other liens bottled into their D-zone.”
With the first win of the series under their belts, the Black and Gold, and the Merlot Line, should feel pretty confident about their chances against an inexperienced Leafs squad.
And perhaps the Merlot will taste a little sweeter when the two teams take the ice again Saturday night in Game 2.
“Playoffs are really about being in the moment and being present. I guess there’s some things to be learned from in this game – positive and negative things,” Campbell said. “It’s a seven-game series and it’s really about moving on, turning the page, and getting ready for the next game.”
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