NEWARK, NJ – Gregory Campbell was a topic of conversation prior to Wednesday night’s game against the Devils for the seemingly strange match he makes centering top offensive talent such as Jaromir Jagr and Brad Marchand.
But it was the fourth-line guy who was one of the offensive stars, potting a pair of goals in the first period and helping lead the Bruins to a 5-4 victory over the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center.
Campbell opened the Bruins scoring just 70 seconds into the game when he attacked the net, and then pounced on a loose puck rebound after Jagr had shoveled a backhanded shot from the slot. Likewise, the dependable pivot closed the scoring in the first period when he camped in front of the net and tipped an Andrew Ference point shot past Martin Brodeur to give Boston a three-goal lead.
For someone known more his stalwart defense and willingness to do all the dirty work for a team always looking for plenty from their full-tilt grinders, a little offense was a bonus in New Jersey. Normally it’s about dropping the gloves to fight in a battle he sometimes has no chance of winning in an attempt to provide emotional momentum for his team, or fearlessly blocking shots that could break bones. Wednesday night, however, it was about creating offense.
He won 11-of-17 faceoffs and got 21:12 of ice time, leading all forwards. But there was so much more than that.
“Getting goals and getting points is a good feeling," said Campbell. "I try to work hard every game whether I’m on the scoreboard or not, and find ways to contribute. I’ve had a few chances throughout the year, and I was happy today that they went in.
“We talk about puck possession a lot in the O-zone and that’s we were able to do [with Jagr]. Even playing with Marchand, he’s one of the best on the team at doing that as well. They’re both so strong down low.”
Campbell had two goals and seven points in his first 37 games this season in his fourth-line role, and has produced two goals and four points in the last two skating in place of the fallen Patrice Bergeron. It’s that versatility and ability to play up the lines that makes Campbell such an invaluable piece of what the Bruins are doing, and puts even more of an emphasis on his game when injuries hit the B’s organization.
“We know that he’s capable of doing that,” said coach Claude Julien. “One thing we know about Soupy is that he’s very capable in front of the net. Whether it’s tipping pucks or finding loose pucks in front, that’s one of his strengths.
"He was really smart tonight. He went to the front of the net with that second goal that was a tip, and the second was being in the fight spot to jump on a puck. That was the plan tonight: to put a lot of pucks at [Brodeur’s] feet and get our nose dirty in there.”
Campbell got his nose plenty dirty on Wednesday night, and got rewarded with one of his best games of the season in a win against the Devils that put the Bruins back into first place.