Campbell scoring while Horton struggles

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Campbell scoring while Horton struggles

By DannyPicard
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- When the Bruins acquired Nathan Horton and Gregory Campbell for Dennis Wideman, they thought they were getting a scorer and a fourth-line center, respectively.

The thought of asking Campbell why he's scoring and why Horton isn't, in late January wasn't what anyone had in mind.

But that was the scene after Thursday night's 4-2 loss to the Buffalo Sabres at the TD Garden.

Campbell scored the Bruins' second goal of the night, giving the B's a 2-1 lead five minutes into the second period. It was the fourth-line center's fourth goal and eighth point in his last seven games.

Horton, meanwhile, finished his seventh straight game without a goal. He has 12 goals for the season, but only one in his last 17 games after Thursday night.

"Those guys don't stay off the score sheet for too long," Campbell said of Horton after Thursday's loss. "He's had a lot of chances, if you watch the games closely. I mean, he's had great chances . . . It's only a matter of time."

But perhaps it wasn't fair for Campbell to have to answer questions about the other half of this past offseason's trading chip. After all, Campbell's not the one who's caught in a scoring rut. And Thursday night proved that once again.

Campbell finished the game as a plus-one, and scored his sixth goal of the season and his fourth in seven games.

It came five minutes into the second period, after linemates Shawn Thornton and Blake Wheeler set him up perfectly in the slot with a chance to beat Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller.

Thornton sent a puck from the left corner out to Wheeler at the top of the left circle, who then quickly re-directed a one-touch pass to his right to Campbell, who was wide open out front.

Campbell took a shot as his body was drifting backwards and beat Miller glove-side.

"It was a good play by Thornton to protect the puck and find Wheeler high, and Wheeler just made a good play to draw the guy to him and slide it over to me," said Campbell. "I was wide open, so it was a good head's up play by both of them."

"Thornton did a great job of recovering it and getting it to me in the slot there, and I just kind of saw, out of the corner of my eye, that Soupy was wide open," said Wheeler. "He did a great job. He was sort of in an awkward position, but did a great job of handling it, and put it in the net."

Wheeler has been playing on the fourth line with Campbell and Thornton as of late, thanks to Brad Marchand's positive chemistry with Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi. And even in the short time he's spent on that line, Wheeler has noticed the positives playing with a fourth-line center with both grit and skill.

"He's a lot of fun to play with, him and Thornton," said Wheeler. "They work so hard, and they win every battle they're in. And when you play with guys like that, it seems to make your job so much easier. You just kind of get into open spaces, and they move it to you. You always have a lot of time and space, playing with those guys."

Campbell wasn't brought into Boston to go on stretches like this. Horton was. Campbell was brought in to fill the role of fourth-line center, which has been filled by Stephane Yelle and Steve Begin in previous years.

While he's riding quite the offensive outburst in recent weeks, Cambell says he hasn't changed much about his game.

"If anything, I think we're just trying to put more pucks at the net," said Campbell. "A lot of things happen out there. Confusion happens, breakdowns happen, when you put the puck on net. So I think we're keeping it simple, the same philosophy that we've had from the beginning of the year. Our line's just a hard-working line, and things are going in.

"When the puck goes in for you, obviously it does a lot for your confidence. I don't think we're playing any different. From the beginning of the year, our lines have the same mentality, just to work hard.

"Sometimes they go in, and sometimes they don't," added Campbell. "I haven't personally changed my game. Maybe putting more pucks on net and trying to get more shots . . . But absolutely, if you talk to anybody, if you get a couple goals here and there, it feels good. Our job is to contribute in other areas of the game, but when you can put something in, and help offensively, it's a good feeling as well."

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard. You can listen to Danny on hisstreaming radio show I'm Just Sayin' Monday-Friday from9-10 a.m. on CSNNE.com.

Sweeney: 'Helpless feeling' hoping World Cup players return healthy

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Sweeney: 'Helpless feeling' hoping World Cup players return healthy

BRIGHTON, Mass. – It’s a bit of a helpless feeling for an NHL general manager watching their star players participate in an intense hockey tournament like the World Cup of Hockey that doesn’t directly benefit their respective teams.

Not helpless because of the tournament’s outcome, obviously, but helpless because players could return from Toronto dinged up, or even worse significantly injured.

Aaron Ekblad had to shut it down for Team North American with what many speculated was a concussion, and Pittsburgh goalie Matt Murray is out a month, or more, with a broken hand sustained playing for the same young guns team.

So, it certainly must have been an uneasy few moments for Don Sweeney when Brad Marchand was pulled from Team Canada’s last game for the concussion protocol after a nasty-looking collision with Team Europe forward Marian Hossa.

Marchand went through the testing, and ended up returning to the game no worse for the wear. But it could have been a lot worse for a Bruins team that can’t afford to be missing Marchand, Patrice Bergeron or Zdeno Chara, who are still playing for teams alive in the semifinal round of the tourney.

“I would expect all of us to have been in a similar situation. For everybody - any general manager, coaches, staff, you're concerned about [injuries],” said Sweeney, talking about the World Cup and Marchand’s close call. “I mean, especially when you realize the stakes are going to go up as the tournament goes along. The pride involved - it's a risk. There's no question, it's a risk.

“But you also want to see them play their best hockey and they're not going to hold back. Yeah, it's a definite concern. You've got your fingers and toes crossed.”

David Pastrnak and Tuukka Rask have already returned to Boston fully healthy. David Backes should be joining the team anytime now after Team USA’s rude dismissal from the tournament. But Sweeney and the Bruins still have their sensors out for the three B’s players taking part that aren’t quite out of the woods yet before returning to B’s camp in one piece. 

 

Bruins lose Vatrano for three months after foot surgery

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Bruins lose Vatrano for three months after foot surgery

BRIGHTON, Mass. – The first bad break of Bruins camp arrived on Saturday with the news that scoring winger Frank Vatrano will be out three months after tearing a couple of ligaments in his left foot.

The 21-year-old winger from UMass and East Longmeadow, Mass., sustained the injury training just prior to the B’s fitness testing for camp and will have surgery on Monday at Mass General Hospital with Dr. George Theodore.

Vatrano had missed the first two days of camp after participating in captain’s practice just about right until the start of main training camp, so the injury must have happened just prior to Thursday’s off-ice testing.

“He had an injury just prior to testing, and it took a couple of days to make sure he had the proper evaluation. He saw a specialist yesterday and he’s scheduled for surgery on Monday,” said Bruins GM Don Sweeney. “One or two of the ligaments were torn when he was doing some running, so he’s out.”

The injury is a big blow for a Bruins team that clearly had plans on Vatrano filling out a top-six role and leaves the door wide open for a young players Danton Heinen, Jake DeBrusk, Zach Senyshyn or Peter Cehlarik to win an NHL job out of camp. Perhaps a veteran such as camp invite Peter Mueller could secure a job when it didn’t appear to be any room on the NHL roster just a few days ago.

Either way it’s damaging to a Bruins team that was relying on goal-scoring and explosive forward play from a guy who topped 40 goals combined in the NHL and AHL last season.

“Obviously it’s a blow. Frankie looked at as an opportunity to [win a top-6 spot]. We all did. How that was going to play out remained to be seen, but he was going to be afforded a position to see if he could grab hold of it,” said Sweeney. “So obviously, he’s disappointed, and we are as well. You look at as with all injuries…it’s a setback. But the doctors feel very good that three months from now he’ll be able to play and move forward.”

It’s not officially NHL training camp until a major injury strikes, so now the Bruins are in the middle of it after learning they’ll lose Vatrano until Christmastime. 

Here's Vatrano's "Countdown to camp" profile