NEW YORK — Please take out a sheet of paper and a No. 2 pencil right now before we continue and kindly jot down these items.
1. The Bruins just can’t win because Claude Julien stubbornly, incessantly rolls four lines. Goodness gracious, 12 forwards, four lines, over and over and over. What a stooge. Can’t he come up with something more imaginative, more complex, more winning than that?
2. The Bruins just can’t win because Julien won’t play the kids, won’t give ’em a chance, just like he gave up on Phil Kessel and continues to position Tyler Seguin as the next kid who will bid the Hub adieu.
Got it all down? Nice. And excellent penmanship, by the way.
Now, kindly toss the No. 2 pencil in the trash can, then wad up the piece of paper and fire that into the trash can, too. Until further notice, you are prohibited from calling radio talk shows, Tweeting, e-mailing any of your faithful hockey scribes, or saying anything other than, “Hey, now, how ’bout them Bruins, huh?’’ when gathering around the office water cooler.
In other words, please go sell crazy somewhere else. The Bruins, after Tuesday night’s 2-1 trimming of the Rangers at Madison Square Garden, have a 3-0 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals and could lock up another visit to the Stanley Cup semis (second in three seasons) with a win at the World’s Greatest Arena Thursday night. The Rangers look like a dispirited lot, broken and befuddled and frustrated, unable Tuesday night to take advantage of stellar early goaltending by Henrik Lundqvist (now 0-3 in his head-to-head guerre des gardiens vs. Tuukka Rask).
Technically, yes, the Rangers still could win the series, but they showed little in the first three games to make anyone, perhaps even their coach, John Tortorella, think they now could run the table against a bigger, heavier, more opportune Boston team that is growing larger every time the Rangers dare glimpse into their side-view mirrors.
Technically, the Statue of Liberty also could win “Dancing With The Stars’’ this fall, but she’s about the only thing in town that moves worse than the Rangers power play (2 for 36).
As for the what-the-heck-does-Julien-know crowd, win No. 3 in the series came with fourth-liner Danny Paille providing the winning knock amid a scramble at Lundqvist’s doorstep with 3:31 left in regulation.
The fourth line, with Paille joined by Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton, has fashioned itself into the club’s Hunter/Gatherer Trio. Whenever they’re out there, something good happens, they bring something home. They all had their names on the winning strike. And earlier in the period, with 3:10 gone, Paille and Thornton assisted on the Johnny Boychuk goal (his fourth) that erased the 1-0 Rangers lead.
“The key to our line is its simplicity,’’ said Campbell, who also landed two shots on net, delivered four of the club’s 28 hits, and also won three of his five faceoffs. “Simplicity, and not overcomplicating things. We try to wear the other team down, and most of all don’t get scored on. We take great pride in all of that.’’
Here’s fourth line simplicity: 1-4—5 on six shots for the night. The nine other Boston forwards: 0-0—0 on a total of 16 shots. Had Julien relied solely on his top three lines, the water cooler talk might be a little different at the office.
“I think a lot of it’s chemistry,’’ said Paille. “We’ve been together four years now. We know our roles.’’
Said Thornton, “I think a lot of it’s just that those two guys, Piesey and Soup, could be first- and second-liners on a lot of other NHL teams. I’m just fortunate to be with them.’’
Now, as for the kids who just never seem to get a break with Julien running the show, let’s examine once more the work of defensemen Torey Krug, Matt Bartkowski, and Dougie Hamilton, the Wee Three D. It was their third straight game on duty, with the likes of Andrew Ference, Dennis Seidenberg, and Wade Redden still too banged up to get in uniform. All three of the kids again played very well with varying degrees of ice time — Bartkowski (19:12), Krug (18:08), and Hamilton (14:44).
Julien’s given the kids chances and the kids have delivered. Which really isn’t anything new.
He gave Kessel ample opportunity, and Kessel eventually began to deliver. Fact is, his game still with some deficiencies, he found a club (Toronto) willing to guarantee him $27 million to leave Boston. In the end, it was more about Kessel not giving Julien and the Boston organization an opportunity to move forward. A free agent in July 2014, Kessel, some believe, will move on from Toronto and find a new suitor.
Seguin? He is now 10 games into this playoff season and his line reads: 0-1—1. He has regressed this season, especially this postseason, but not because his coach hasn’t stuck with him. Julien, in fact, has stuck with him a lot longer than perhaps many other coaches would have. Ten games. One point. But Seguin still played 10:41 Tuesday night and, to his credit, landed four shots. Lundqvist stoned him on a breakaway at 11:15 of the first. Had he potted it, the night might have played out much differently, as has been said of many of the 38 other shots he has landed in the postseason.
So write it all down, wad it all up, and get rid of it. The four-line Bruins, the team with the baby-faced back line, they’re doing just fine.