Notes: Kampfer learning by watching

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Notes: Kampfer learning by watching

By JoeHaggerty
CSNNE.comOTTAWA Its been an interesting 24 hours for Steve Kampfer.The 22-year-old defenseman was scratched for a pair of early games on the current road trip after Tomas Kaberle arrived from the Maple Leafs, but hopped back into the lineup Sunday in Edmonton after Andrew Ferences lower body injury.Kampfer was a minus-1 in 13 plus minutes of ice time and appeared a little rusty in Sundays win after more than a week away from game action, but thats just the tip of the iceberg. Kampfer also got a call from his agent Monday morning that he was being sent down to the AHL, but it certainly wasnt as close to dire as it originally seemed.Kampfer was designated to the AHL during an entire afternoon spent in Ottawa, and then recalled at 5 p.m. in a paperwork move that now allows the young defenseman to qualify for an AHL playoff roster should Bostons season end sooner than Providences. The youngster is highly unlikely to spend any time in Providence through the rest of the regular season or during Bostons playoff run, but its a move similar to the paper transaction the Bs made with Phil Kessel during his rookie season in Boston. Monday's trade deadline day was the window for the B's to make the office clerical move with Kampfer without needing to send him to Providence, and they chose to do so.Kessel never ended up playing in any AHL playoff games during that 2007-08 campaign.
Once Kampfer was assured the paper transaction didnt mean anything to his immediate future in Boston, he could instead concentrate on implementing the little blueline nuances he picked up while watching the game from up in the press box last week.It was great to get back into the lineup. You dont like sitting out at all. Its a relief to get back in, but you also know youve got to play well to keep your spot, said Kampfer. Right now Im just taking it day-by-bay and earning a spot back. When you sit out you see areas where you can make a play, or see you guys patience. You realize you were rushing when you could have really taken more time to make something happen.Kampfer said one of the biggest pluses while serving as a healthy scratch was simply watching the skill set Kaberle brought to the table as the puck-moving defenseman. Its something the young Bostonian hopes to develop into someday.One of the things that Claude talked to me about was really watching how some of the other guys on our team, and in particular how a guy like Kaberle handles himself in the defensive zone and moves things around in the offensive zone, said Kampfer. Its one of those things where you can really pick some things out from other guys that can help you out in your game.I couldnt ask for anything better. You can see how Kaberle moves the puck and the plays he sees. At the same time you want to be back in the lineup, and youre still learning by watching him whether its in practice or at other moments. There are so many areas he can make plays where you wouldnt see it otherwise.Claude Julien indicated he wasnt sure if Andrew Ference would quite miss the two weeks that Peter Chiarelli had estimated on Monday, and said the Bs wouldnt have any hard answers on the lower body injury until the team arrived back in Boston.Ference was scheduled to see team doctors on Wednesday, but the Bs coach indicated that the Boston defenseman felt much better with 24 more hours of rest and rehab.We dont need another defenseman right now, said Julien. I know what Peter said, but we need to get Ference evaluated in Boston because hes feeling a lot better today than yesterday and that four hour flight usually isnt very good.Its hard to really tell at this point, but well know a lot more tomorrow. Itll be easier to be a little more definitive about it after that.Somebody might need an AHL program to decipher the players on Ottawas roster as the Bs get ready to take the ice against them at Scotiabank Place, but Julien said taking the lowly Sens lightly would be a mistake after their trade deadline fire sale.Newly acquired goalie Craig Anderson has been outstanding since coming aboard from the Colorado Avalanche, and is 3-1 with a 1.23 goals against and a .964 save percentage in four games with Ottawa.As I mentioned earlier, their goaltending has been good and stay in the game. We went through that in Edmonton where we were dominating the shot block and it was only a 2-1 game, said Julien. Theyve got guys here that wanted to prove themselves, will work very hard and want to do well. We know our depth is better than theirs, but we know weve got to come out and play the game hard.
Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Haggerty: Mark it down -- the Bruins WILL make the playoffs

Haggerty: Mark it down -- the Bruins WILL make the playoffs

The Bruins are going to snap their two-year drought and get into the Stanley Cup playoffs this spring. 

Sure, it’s going to be a tight race. And it'll come down to the last few games, befitting a team that's lived on the Atlantic Division bubble over the last three years. But in the seven games under interim coach Bruce Cassidy, the Bruins have shown they have the goods to get into the postseason. There's every reason to believe they’ll sustain their winning ways over the final two months of the regular season. 

There's a long way to go, of course, but a third-place (or higher) finish would ensure the B's a berth in the Atlantic Division playoff bracket, and they could conceivably advance a round or two based solely on the poor quality of clubs in their division. With 20 games to play, the Bruins are now third in the division and have a one-point cushion (70-69) over fourth-place Toronto, though the Leafs have a game in hand. If Toronto passes them, they currently have a two-point lead over the Islanders (70-68) for the eighth and final spot in the conference playoffs, though the Isles also have a game in hand. 

And that's not to say Boston couldn't climb higher. The B's are only four points behind the first-place but spinning-their-wheels Canadiens (20-20-7 since their 13-1-1 start), and they're even with the Habs in games played. They trail second-place Ottawa by two points, but the Senators have two games in hand.

All that, however, is another story for another day (even if it is a reason for Boston adding, rather than subtracting, at Wednesday's NHL trade deadline),

So how can we so stridently state that the Bruins are going to make the playoffs, and assure that this seven-game run isn’t just a flash in the pan?

Clearly they're playing with more urgency, higher compete levels, and a consistent focus that wasn’t there in the first 55 games under Claude Julien. They've now scored first-period goals in nine straight games and scored first in each of the four games on the highly successful Western swing through San Jose, Los Angeles, Anaheim and Dallas over the last week. 

To put that in perspective, the B's had gone 1-8 in California over the previous three seasons, when those late-in-the-year road trips spelled the beginning of the end for Boston.

But even more convincing is a simple look at the numbers, the production and the reasons behind the surge forward. 

The Bruins have long needed their two franchise centers operating at a high level at both ends of the ice, and consistently playing the 200-foot game that can cause major problems against teams not blessed with frontline talent in the middle. That wasn’t the case under Julien this year, but things have changed. 

David Krejci has three goals and eight points along with an even plus/minus rating in seven games under Cassidy. Patrice Bergeron posted three goals and nine points along with a plus-7 over that same span of games. With those two big-money, big-ceiling players operating at their highest levels, the rest of the team has shown its true potential . . . and the talent level is considerably higher than many thought.

It wasn’t long ago that many Bruins fans, and some major Julien apologists in the media, would have had you believe that Claude was keeping together a substandard NHL roster with a MacGyver-like combination of duct tape, chewing gum and an offensive system that only a dump-and-chase, trappist wonk could love. Now we’re seeing there's offensive talent on a group that’s been given the green light to create and produce. 

To wit, the Bruins' third line is now winning games for them after serving as a liability for the first half of the season. Ryan Spooner, Jimmy Hayes and Frank Vatrano have combined for 6 goals, 15 points and a plus-11 in the seven games under Cassidy after never getting a chance to work together under Julien because they weren’t in his defensive circle of trust.

There's also the elevated level of production -- across the board -- from Boston’s defensemen. Not to mention Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak continuing to produce offense at elite levels. Marchand just set a career-high with his 64th point on Sunday afternoon, and still has another 20 games left in attempting to become the B's first point-per-game player since Marc Savard (88 points in 82 games in  2008-09).

All of it amounts to a Bruins offense that’s now choosing quality shots over quantity: Boston is scoring 1.5 more goals per game under Cassidy while averaging a significant 4.5 fewer shots per game. The Bruins have finally ditched the weak perimeter attack that so entralled the Corsi crowd -- it was putting up 40-plus shots per game, yet only about 2.5 goals -- and are instead honing in their offensive chances between the dots and in closer to the net .

Should people still be wondering if this current B’s run of entertaining, winning hockey is sustainable? They certainly can if they want to wait until the season is over to decide, but the jury is in for this humble hockey writer.

Bruins fans should take the cue and start lining up for their postseason tickets. 

Because there is going to be playoff hockey in Boston this spring. Remember, you heard it here first.

Haggerty's Morning Skate: NHL teams aren't just making trades for themselves ahead of deadline

Haggerty's Morning Skate: NHL teams aren't just making trades for themselves ahead of deadline

Here are all the hockey links from around the world, and what I’m reading while feeling like Warren Beatty took the sneaky way out by handing that wrong Academy Award card to Faye Dunaway last night. Clearly he knew something was amiss and he let her step into it. Kind of a weasel move if you asked me.

-- An interesting letter from FOH (Friend of Haggs) James Mirtle about the pay wall involving The Athletic sports website in Toronto.

-- Dean Lombardi and the Los Angeles Kings dealing for Ben Bishop is about more than just an insurance policy for Jonathan Quick.

-- FOH Mike Halford has the Minnesota Wild going for it with their trade for Martin Hanzal, but also keeping him from the other teams in the West.

-- NHL commissioner Gary Bettman says the Penguins are in great shape after winning the Cup last spring, and it’s clear they’re in good hands after Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle opted not to sell the franchise.

-- Kyle Quincey is being held out of the lineup in New Jersey because of pending trades, and the wonder is who else in New Jersey might be getting dealt.

-- Gabriel Landeskog and his Colorado Avalanche teammates know the trade deadline is coming. It would certainly be weird if they didn’t.

-- The San Jose Sharks feel fortunate for the timing of their bye week as it was clear that they needed a break.

-- For something completely different: Gronk was busy doing Gronk things at the Daytona 500 over the weekend.