Campbell silently showing his value to Bruins

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Campbell silently showing his value to Bruins

Gregory Campbell had himself a pretty solid road trip.

The fourth-line center opened Bostons scoring in their 3-1 victory over the Penguins on Monday night, and capped off the statement victory by dropping the gloves with Pittsburgh center Joe Vitale while stepping in to protect Tim Thomas.

Then he assisted on Shawn Thorntons third period strike against the Winnipeg Jets in Tuesday nights loss, and skated over 12 minutes of ice time in a contest that Claude Julien liberally sprinkled with the third and fourth line.

Thats a far cry from the month of October when Campbell was a virtual non-factor with zero points and only six shots on net in 10 games. But like the renaissance enjoyed by nearly all of the Bruins since the first month passed, Campbell has turned it up with a pair of goals and 8 points. But offense isnt the main attraction to a player like Campbell, and hes under no illusions about that.

Its always nice to contribute a little bit offensively, but its more about just playing our game and getting the result were looking for, said Campbell. Maybe sometimes it takes us a few more scoring chances to finally break through, but weve been playing a much more consistent game recently. Were bringing energy and spending plenty of time with the puck in the offensive zone.

Once you do that for a long enough period of time good things start happening for you.

While the 27-year-old Campbell only put up a pair of shots on net in those two road games against the Pens and Jets, hes killed penalties, won big face-offs for a Bruins team thats dominated the NHL in the dot and done all of the little things that largely go unnoticed in the box scores.

Campbells 56 percent success rate on draws this season stands behind only Patrice Bergeron (58 percent) for the team lead among Bs centers, and goes right along with the Boston philosophy of strength, dominance and precision down the middle of the ice.

Best of all was the big moment against the Penguins as Pittsburgh attempted to spark a rally after Matt Cooke potted a late goal. The Penguins crashed the net with force and energy, and that included a late Tim Thomas save with Vitale bearing down on him just a little too closely.

Thomas jumped at Vitale when the Pittsburgh forward made initial contact, and was followed by the Bs defenders around the cage. That eventually evolved into Campbell and Vitale scrapping near the Boston cage with both bottom six pivots getting in their shots, and Thomas knowing once again that his teammates had his back. Thomas said he thanked Campbell following the Pittsburgh after Andrew Ference had done the same thing just a few weeks earlier, but the Bs forward said its something thats simply built into the Black and Gold fabric of the team.

Hes arguably the best player that we have, but thats not anything that anybody else would do for any other player on the team in the same circumstances, said Campbell. This is a group of players that fights for each other, and stands up for one another. Whether its Timmy or somebody else, that kind of things has always been addressed.

Campbell isnt the first player that came to mind during Bostons winning streak, but theres a value inherent in his role that goes far beyond the numbers. Just ask his teammates or the best goaltender in the world that constantly play with the knowledge that Campbell will always do the right thing when hes out on the ice.

Saturday, Aug. 27: Adding toughness Habs' priority

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Saturday, Aug. 27: Adding toughness Habs' priority

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, after a busy morning celebrating my 3-year-old’s birthday at the trampoline park. Yee-ha.

*PHT writer Joey Alfieri says that adding toughness was a big offseason priority for the Montreal Canadiens.

*There’s at least one big fan of the Edmonton Oilers trade that brought defenseman Adam Larsson from the New Jersey Devils, and that fan’s name is Mark Letestu.

*Here’s everything you need to know about the Ice Guardians movie premiering this fall that takes a long, balanced look at the NHL enforcers.

*Roberto Luongo has an alibi for the robbery in Winnipeg with one suspect getting away in goalie equipment, and it’s funny as you would expect it to be.

*CSN Washington takes a look at the New York Rangers in their season previews for the Metro Division.

*I’m not entirely sure whether this “RIP Harambe” thing is genuine or meant to be ironic by the largely millenial group that seem so enamored with it, but I think it’s just stupid. I think the same with the crying Jordan meme…also stupid.

*For something completely different: a look at how Triumph the Insult Comic Dog learned how to poop on Trump’s politics.

 

Countdown to camp: Danton Heinen

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Countdown to camp: Danton Heinen

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From now until the beginning of training camp, Bruins Insider Joe Haggerty is profiling players who will be on, or have a chance to be on, the 2016-17 Bruins. Today: Danton Heinen.

Danton Heinen exploded into a high-profile prospect for the Bruins after finishing among the NCAA’s top scoring players a couple of years ago as a freshman along with a couple of guys named Jack Eichel and Dylan Larkin. 

Since then, Heinen has continued to produce offense at the University of Denver and continued to create offense that leads to points. Now, the 21-year-old Heinen will be entering the professional arena for his first full season with the Bruins and he’ll be attempting to transition from the prospect phase to a regular gig in the NHL. That’s the challenge for a talented player who appears headed into a very good opportunity in NHL training camp.

 

What happened last year

Heinen was every bit as explosive in his second season for Denver as he was in his brilliant freshman campaign. He improved on his scoring with 20 goals and 48 points in 41 games. Then Heinen signed with the Bruins at the end of his sophomore season and played in a couple of pro games in the AHL with Providence as a tune-up for this first full pro campaign with the Bruins organization. Heinen finished with two assists and a plus-1 rating in four games with the P-Bruins and showed the coaches in Providence that he was ready to play and produce with more talented players. If Heinen surprised a little bit as a breakout freshman two years ago, his sophomore follow-up in Denver last season proved to everybody that he wasn’t a fluke.

 

Questions to be answered this season

The real question surrounding Heinen is about his ceiling as an NHL player and just how good he can become as a player with the skills and playmaking abilities to be a top-six forward. He’s proven he can dominate at the collegiate level while admittedly playing with some pretty good teammates at Denver. Heinen showed at the end of the season in Providence that the pro scene might not be much different for him. At this point, Heinen simply needs to go out and prove it against the best players in the world and show that his speed, playmaking and hockey sense are all elite in the AHL or NHL. Heinen’s biggest obstacle might be his size. He'll need to survive as a targeted skill player despite not being much more than the 6-feet, 180-pound range for a forward. It’s about average for a playmaking wing in the NHL, but the hits and attention will be at a much more intense level than anything he faced in the NCAA world.

 

What they're saying

“He’s the type of player that he can play with good players because he’s got high hockey IQ and he’s got really good skill. I think anywhere you put him, he’s smart enough to figure it out. I think you’ll notice him during training camp. It will definitely be up to him, but I think he’ll push some guys.” –Bruins assistant coach Jay Pandolfo on Heinen during last month’s development camp where Heinen soared as a performer.

 
Outlook

While Heinen still has some things he’ll need to prove before he’s a regular contributor for the Bruins, he comes into the Boston fold as an experienced player following two very good seasons at the college level. So, Heinen should be a little closer to plug-and-play for Claude Julien than some of the other young players that have come through the system in the past couple of years. Heinen will still need to flash in camp while being handed a big spot to perform with high-end veterans Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Brad Marchand potentially off playing in the World Cup of Hockey. Heinen also has a much greater chance of winning an NHL job sooner rather than later after the Bruins lost out on the Jimmy Vesey sweepstakes and still have a top-six forward opening that somebody is going to fill. Heinen and Frank Vatrano are the two biggest favorites to fill that position, which became vacant when Loui Eriksson departed for Vancouver. Whichever winger loses that battle should be also be a strong candidate for a role on the third line, as well, barring any late veteran signings by the B’s. That set of circumstances leaves a very good situation for Heinen to potentially walk into with the Black and Gold, but he'll still have to show he’s fully capable of seizing his good fortune and good timing.