Boston College knows it has to be more than just the big line

PHILADELPHIA — Boston College’s dominating first line of Johnny Gaudreau, Kevin Hayes and Bill Arnold has received the lion’s share of media attention, and deservedly so.

Since they were assembled on Dec. 6, the Eagles have gone 20-3-2 and the trio has averaged more than two goals per game and totaled 128 points (53-75–128) with a combined plus/minus rating of plus-86.

Yet when Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien spoke to the Eagles last week, his message was that teams succeed not just because of the stars in the spotlight, but also those who grind through the less appreciated tasks that are every bit as vital to winning games.

“He mentioned that their success is not what you think it is, just because of [Zdeno] Chara, [Patrice] Bergeron, [Milan] Lucic and [David] Krejci,” BC coach Jerry York said. “It’s more of the [Gregory] Campbells and [Chris] Kellys that block shots, that kill penalties, that are kind of the glue to the team.

“He challenged all of our top-end guys to really recognize the fact that you’re going to a Frozen Four because there are a lot of players contributing in different roles over the course of your season.”

For the Eagles, that list includes an unappreciated second line of senior Patrick Brown along with freshmen wingers Ryan Fitzgerald and Austin Cangelosi, who likely will become limelight players in their own right in future seasons but are already vital to this year’s success.

One need only go back to BC’s difficult 4-3 win over Massachusetts-Lowell to capture the Northeast Regional. The Eagles fell behind the River Hawks 3-2 early in the third period, but Fitzgerald responded with a highlight-reel goal just 21 seconds later to set the stage for a 4-3 win.

“[Those three] are players that are playing a critical role in our team,” York said. “They’re valued very much by our coaching staff and by our players sitting up here on the dais [Gaudreau, Arnold and goaltender Thatcher Demko].

“You can have your marquee players and you need those players to be really good. But they have to have a supporting cast that does things also. It’s not like where you start five players and they play the majority of the game. We’re using every night 18 players on a regular basis.”