WILMINGTON, MA In a shortened 48-game NHL schedule, the depth within an organization becomes an important element to sustained success. Each team needs extra forwards and defensemen that can come in and fill the roles of injured starters, and players need to have the ability to be upwardly mobile within the lineup.
Gregory Campbell is the perfect example of one of those versatile forwards that can wear different hats, and is already doing so less than 10 games per season. Normally Campbell is the fourth line center between Daniel Paille and Shawn Thornton, but injuries to both of the wingers have temporarily torn that forward trio apart.
But he finished Saturday nights win over the Toronto Maple Leafs filling in for the injured Brad Marchand on the Patrice Bergeron line, and skated with Bergeron and Tyler Seguin at Mondays practice. If injuries keep Marchand out for Wednesday nights game against the Canadiens it appears that will be Campbell getting a shot at a top-six forward role with the Bruins.
Campbell doesnt have elite offensive skills, but he is willing to put his body into harms way in front of the net for tips, screens and deflections. The only wrinkle in his new spot is that hell be playing on the wing rather than manning the center position as he does on the energy line.
Hes a guy that can play both positions. With Tyler on the right side with some high-end offensive skills, I think Bergeron could benefit from another guy thats a good two-way player. While Gregory sometimes doesnt get enough credit, when hes got some players like that to play with youre going to see him go to the front of the net, youre going to see him grind it out and hes going to give that line some offense. .
Hes playing a role on the fourth line thats a little different, but he adapts very well.
The fourth line pivot falls into the ultimate team guy category, so hes more than willing to step into any role that will best help the team. The fact both Campbell and Paille can climb up the lines to fill in when injuries occur shows just how much depth Boston enjoys, but clearly a little something will be lost if the teams leading goal-scorer misses a rivalry game against the Habs.
Campbell said he felt comfortable skating with duo when he was slotted there midway through the second period when Marchand suffered an upper body injury after he tumbled into the end boards
I see an opportunity to fill a role if Marchand is out for longer than we expect, said Campbell, who has a goal and three points along with a minus-3 in 8 games this season. Wherever Im playing I want to contribute. Whether its with Bergeron or Seguin or with Paille and Thornton, the roles might be a little different where its an energy role or something thats more of a defensive role.
But I just want to contribute. Wherever I am thats my main goal.
It remains to be seen if Campbell sticks in that left wing spot with Ryan Spooner getting recalled on an emergency basis from the Providence Bruins early on Monday evening, but the fourth line center is ready for the challenge if it presents itself.