Lane MacDermid Making Impact With Physical Play, Reliable Approach in First Recall to Bruins
By: Douglas Flynn
The Bruins have been ravaged by injuries of late, with the shuttle from Providence working overtime to bring up enough new bodies to fill all the voids created.
The results produced by those replacements have been mixed, but at least one newcomer has fit seamlessly into his role with the big club.
Forward Lane MacDermid made an immediate impact when he dropped the mitts on his very first shift in the NHL last week, taking on Rangers heavyweight Mike Rupp. But MacDermid has proven capable of contributing with the gloves on as well, keeping the “Merlot Line” clicking while Daniel Paille has been sidelined with an upper-body injury.
“I’ve just tried to keep it simple and play well defensively,” MacDermid said before the club departed for its three-game road trip that opened Sunday in Pittsburgh. “Not give that many chances against and try to get in on the forecheck, basically just try to play my game.”
MacDermid’s game is a perfect match for new linemates Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton, both of whom have been impressed with the youngster’s play in his first taste of NHL action.
“He’s done a great job,” Campbell said. “He knows what his strengths are. He fits in well with us. We’re a simple line. We try to be a diligent line and work hard every night and also be a very reliable, responsible line that the coaching staff can trust. That’s his game. He’s stuck to his game. He works hard. He finishes his checks. He skates well.
“I guess that’s a testament to this organization,” Campbell added. “Piesy’s a big part of our team, but there’s depth and he’s done a great job coming in.”
That depth helped keep MacDermid from reaching the NHL until late in his third pro season, but after strong showings in training camp and a handful of preseason games this fall, the 22-year-old knew his opportunity would come eventually.
“After playing those exhibition games, I was confident I would get a chance,” MacDermid said. “But throughout the season other players stepped up down in Providence and they got the call, so I wasn’t too sure if I would get the call this year or maybe have to wait another year. I was pretty happy to get that call though, that’s for sure.”
The Bruins have been happy with MacDermid’s play as well. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound winger has stayed out of the box other than his bout with Rupp, been a physical presence on the forecheck (10 hits in five games, including six against Toronto) and earned a regular shift.
“What I like about those types of guys is they’re pretty tough individuals, but they can play,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “I think that’s always important. Obviously he’s got some good genes and he’s got some hockey sense. You watch him play and he finishes his checks well. He plays a big, tough, grinding type of game, but he also plays a smart game. He reads the play very well and he’s certainly not a liability out there. He’s played hard and seems to have a lot of confidence.”
MacDermid has averaged 8:54 of ice time in his first five games, including 12:54 on Thursday in a win over Buffalo. That fourth line contributed Boston’s first goal in a 3-1 win when Campbell tipped in a Thornton shot, and was used extensively in the third period as the Bruins rolled four lines to wear down the Sabres. That unit consistently kept Buffalo hemmed in its own zone.
“He’s playing well,” Thornton said. “When we’ve been out there I think we’ve been fairly effective. We’ve spent a lot of time in the offensive zone. I think our line is a fairly easy line for him to transition into since it’s kind of his style of play, straight-line hockey, just working hard and creating energy.”
It also helps to have a veteran like Thornton — who plays a similarly hard-nosed game — around if MacDermid needs any advice. Thornton has been careful not to overwhelm the youngster with too much information, instead letting MacDermid come to him whenever he has a question.
“A little bit if he asked,” Thornton said of the wisdom he’s shared. “I remember when I was first coming up, if I wanted to know something, I would rather ask more than I wanted people telling me.”
MacDermid also has another source of inside information on life in the NHL if needed. He can always call upon his father, Paul Macdermid, who played 690 career games over 14 seasons with Hartford, Winnipeg, Washington and Quebec from 1982-95.
“He just told me to enjoy the game and don’t put too much pressure on yourself,” MacDermid said of his father, who attended Lane’s first two games in New York and Toronto. “But mostly he knows the coaches will be talking to me so he’s just encouraging me and supporting me.”
MacDermid has provided some solid support to the shorthanded Bruins as well. Paille is close to returning, but with the other injuries Boston is still dealing with up front, that may not spell the end of MacDermid’s first stint with the big club.
With the chemistry he’s shown with Campbell and Thornton, the Bruins may be better served keeping this latest incarnation of the “Merlot Line” together and using Paille on the third line. And even if the Bruins do get back to close enough to full strength and MacDermid has to head back to Providence, they can at least rest a little more assured that another quality role player is just a phone call away when needed.