BOSTON – Gregory Campbell has long been one of the tone-setters among the Bruins players for his willingness to do things that aren’t particularly comfortable or fun in order for his team to succeed. The fourth-line center has long been willing to drop the gloves in fights he won’t always win in order to spark or support his teammates, and blocking shots are a hazard he’s always been willing to endure.
In Boston’s 2-1 double overtime victory in Game 3 Wednesday night, Campbell broke his right tibia, according to Comcast SportsNet New England’s Mike Giardi, after diving to the ice to block an Evgeni Malkin shot from the high point on one of three Pittsburgh power plays in the second period.
The Bruins confirmed on Thursday morning that Campbell will miss the rest of the season with a broken right fibula.
Patrice Bergeron and other Bruins players attributed their winning effort to being inspired by Campbell’s willingness to sacrifice and play through pain, and the center’s efforts helped the Bruins hold the Penguins power play to an 0-for-6 effort in Game 3.
“That block was super. That's the way [Campbell] is,” said Bergeron. “He sacrifices the body always for the team, for the better of the team. Obviously we tried to rally behind that and do it for him because he's a big part of our team on and off the ice.”
Campbell was clearly hobbled by the impact, but continued to attempt killing the penalty while unable to put any weight or pressure on his right leg.
This went on for 43 excruciating seconds of until the Bruins had killed off the penalty, and Campbell was able to slowly limp off the ice while favoring his injured right leg. The courageous effort clearly inspired his teammates, and gave them a burst of energy in the second period that helped sustain them all the way through the victory in double overtime.
It will also have to be Campbell’s lasting legacy during this playoff run because a broken right leg will knock him out for the rest of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Claude Julien wouldn’t specify the severity of the injury following Wednesday’s game, but Campbell was on crutches around the Boston dressing room following the win, which put the Bruins up 3-0 in the Eastern Conference Finals.
“We'll be able to give you guys an update tomorrow on his situation,” said Julien. "For what he went through, he showed a lot of guts to stay out there and to still try and play. Obviously it was a pretty serious injury, so that's just the kind of player he is. It doesn't surprise me, it doesn't surprise his teammates, but certainly it shows the character of that player. That's why we appreciate having him on our team.”
The Bruins will know exactly what it’s like to appreciate a guy like Campbell as they try to replace him in the middle of the playoffs. Carl Soderberg, Kaspars Daugavins and Jay Pandolfo are all reasonable replacements already skating with the Bruins team, and any one of them might slot into the fourth-line center role. Jordan Caron, Chris Bourque and Carter Camper are among the Providence players serving as Black Aces, and give Claude Julien and Co. some extra bodies to plug in as a replacement for a fourth line energetic dynamo like Campbell.
But none of the candidates will replace Campbell, or replicate a fourth line for the Bruins that’s been the best in the NHL over the last three seasons dating back to the Stanley Cup Finals.