BOSTON -- It hasn’t been a huge issue all season-long, but the struggles of Gregory Campbell to fully recover from last year’s broken leg were pretty obvious out of the starting gate this season. It took Campbell 17 games to get his first point, and 21 games to notch his first goal of the season. The fourth-line center is never expected to be a big offensive contributor, but the lack of secondary offense was fairly noticeable from a guy that is fully capable of chipping in from time to time.
Campbell always seemed to be chasing the play, and certainly wasn’t playing with the suffocating pressure that the B’s Merlot Line can bring when they’re at their best.
Fast forward to the month of January, and Campbell is back on his game. He’s had his best month offensively with a goal and six points along with a plus-4 in 12 games this month.
He’s getting on puck-carriers quickly on the fore-check, getting the puck up the ice quickly when it’s on his stick, and making the kinds of plays he’s always been accustomed to pulling off with bottom-six minutes.
“It’s kind of been a steady rise in the game as the season has progressed, and I’ve been focused on getting a little better each and every game as the season has progressed,” said Campbell. “We all know it’s going to be a real sprint for us once the Olympics are over.”
Campbell himself noted his uptick in play, and Claude Julien said it all goes back to the improvement in his skating game as he continues to put some distance between himself and last spring’s broken leg.
“A lot of it is his skating,” said Claude Julien. “When you come off an injury like that, it doesn’t matter how hard you work to get yourself back into shape and let it heal. It takes a while to catch up to the speed.
“In his case, I think that was the biggest thing. He felt like he was late getting to certain areas, and didn’t feel like he was skating as well as he had in the past. I think that’s one of the areas that’s really helped his game out a lot. Everything is happening a lot quicker for him now.”
Once again there’s little coincidence that the rise in Campbell’s game -- and the fourth line forwards around him -- has coincided with the team playing their best brand of hockey this season over the last few weeks.