Campbell silently showing his value to Bruins


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.

Khudobin happy to step in for Rask in an 'important game'

Khudobin happy to step in for Rask in an 'important game'

BROOKLYN, N.Y. – The Bruins' original plan was for Anton Khudobin to get one out of the four big games with playoff implications this week, so the fact he’s starting Saturday night vs. the Islanders in a do-or-die game is in keeping with that plan. 

But the 30-year-old Khudobin couldn’t have been planning on making the start vs. the Isles after the Bruins lost the first three games this week vs. Toronto, Ottawa and Tampa Bay, and have lost four in a row in regulation overall.

All of that changed on Friday when Tuukka Rask determined he couldn’t play due to a lower body issue. That leaves the Bruins backup goaltender preparing to start in the biggest game of the regular season. 

Coach Bruce Cassidy said there would still have been a discussion about going with Khudobin tonight based on the way things had gone for Rask over the past four games, but it would have been bold going with the backup over a theoretically healthy No. 1 goalie.

“It would have been a conversation to have with [Rask] based on his physical well-being. He’s not used to the workload, but at this time of year that’s just what happens sometimes,” said Cassidy of Rask, who had started three games in four days before tonight’s DNP. “It would have been a conversation. We were considering Anton for a game this week, and it just so happens that it worked out to be [against the Islanders].”

It’s a good thing that Khudobin has won his past four games  and is playing his best hockey of the season. He said he's determined to be at his best despite his last start coming 10 days ago in Calgary.

“We don’t know what’s going on there [with Tuukka], so I’m just taking it day-by-day,” said Khudobin, who has a solid .916 save percentage in his past five appearances for the Black and Gold. “I’m not thinking too far ahead. It’s always great to play. It’s a really important game, and it’s the time of year where every point is really important.

“I’ve played pretty good and the guys have played really well in front of me. We’ve gotten the wins, so that’s the most important thing. When you get the wins, of course, it always feels really good.”

The Bruins showed a lot of faith in Khudobin signing him to a two-year deal on July 1 to be Rask’s backup. For most of this season he struggled badly in that role while going back and forth to Providence. Still, all of that will be forgotten if Khudobin can battle and compete his way to winning against the Islanders and help stabilize a Bruins team that looks headed for another late-season fall amid a four-game losing streak. 

Saturday, March 25: Does NHL have star double-standard?

Saturday, March 25: Does NHL have star double-standard?

BROOKLYN, N.Y. - Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while getting no sleep till Brooklyn.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Mike Harrington with a good piece on the star treatment double-standard when the NHL’s best players misbehave on the ice.

*PHT writer Cam Tucker asks what is wrong with the San Jose Sharks as the playoffs beckon.  

*Claude Julien hasn’t had the impact that the Montreal Canadiens were hoping for, says the Hockey News.

*Hockey Canada is contemplating sending a “B team” to replace the NHL star players at the 2018 Olympic Games.

*Jarome Iginla is undecided on whether or not he’s going to retire after 20 Hall of Fame level seasons in the NHL.

*Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock has his eyes on the playoffs as the Leafs have carved out a temporary placement for themselves.

*With the Minnesota Wild in a bit of a limbo, Bruce Boudreau is urging his players to learn from their mistakes and ready to finish up strong.

*For something completely different: I hope this Justice League movie is good, but I have zero faith in Zak Snyder.