Campbell scoring while Horton struggles


Campbell scoring while Horton struggles

By DannyPicard

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

Haggerty: Bruins continue to stumble against Canadiens at home

Haggerty: Bruins continue to stumble against Canadiens at home

BOSTON -- One of the definitions of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

Much like Charlie Brown was never going to actually kick the football before Lucy pulled it away, it feels like the Bruins are never again going to beat the Montreal Canadiens at TD Garden. They failed again Saturday night, never holding a lead at any point as they dropped their ninth straight home game to the Habs, 4-2.

Bruins-Canadiens games in Boston have become the hockey version of 'Groundhog Day', as the same patterns emerge over and over again: Montreal's speed forces the Bruins into mistakes with the puck; Habs players draw the B’s into taking bad penalties; Carey Price dominates in goal. It's been that way ever since the last Bruin victory over Montreal at the Garden, on Jan. 12, 2012. To put it perspective, Tim Thomas and Tyler Seguin were still Bruins back then.

Saturday night's loss, though, had a little added twist: The B's second-period woes, such a problem last year, reared its ugly head again.

“[The second period was] terrible, and that’s where it really hurt us," said Claude Julien. "I thought we played well (in the first period) . . . But the second period came back to haunt us. We were flat coming out. We didn’t make good outlet passes, and we spent way too much time in our own end, and because of that, it gave them some momentum. And by the end of it, we cheated ourselves a little bit, and pucks ended up in the back of our net . . .

"[When] you give up four goals to Montreal, and you have Price at the other end, it’s pretty hard to beat that team. So we needed to be better . . . [We] shot ourselves in the foot with some real poor mistakes, and we can’t afford to do that against the Montreal Canadiens."

The Bruins were essentially done for after a couple of very typical Boston-Montreal plays went against them in the middle 20 minutes.

The first was a defensive coverage breakdown in the D-zone that allowed both Max Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher to operate with time and space. Five B’s players simply watched as Gallagher smoked a one-timer from the outside of the left circle that eluded Anton Khudobin.

Then, later in the period, John-Michael Liles misread a play where he pinched deep in the offensive zone and couldn’t control the puck. As a result, Alexander Radulov worked a 2-on-1 with Phillip Danault to skilled perfection on a typical Habs transition play.

"I think our second period has got to be better overall," said Patrice Bergeron. "We talked about them having a good forecheck . . . [but] we didn’t make the easy plays too many times. When you do that, it creates turnovers and you spend more time in your zone than you’d like to."

From there, it was just more of the same. Playing with the lead, Montreal was able to neutralize Bergeron and Brad Marchand; Bergeron never got a shot on goal. Price came up big when he had to, shutting down a couple of Ryan Spooner chances.

And Bruin weaknesses were exposed, things Julien and the coaching staff may have to address. It looks like it’s time to move on from the Joe Morrow/Torey Krug defense pairing; it's simply not working. (Krug, in particular, was a minus-3 and made mistakes all over the ice.) They also may need to switch things up with the forwards, as they're getting zippo offensively from their second and third lines.

To their credit, the Bruins never packed it in. They hung in and made plays in the third period to keep the game close, right up to the 6-on-3 advantage they had at the end. But there are no consolation prizes or moral victories in the Boston-Montreal rivalry, especially when the Habs have made it so one-sided.

To be a true rivalry, you need equal rivals. And the Bruins, especially at home, aren’t holding up their end of the bargain.

Bruins need to 'find a way to start playing with a lead'

Bruins need to 'find a way to start playing with a lead'

BOSTON -- There’s only so long that a team can hope to thrive, or even survive, in the NHL if they’re constantly chasing the game on the scoreboard, and chasing the puck after digging themselves a hole. The Bruins have been that team in the first couple of weeks during the regular season, and made it five times in five games that they’ve given up the game’s first goal in an eventual 4-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens at TD Garden.

It’s a pattern that is long past getting old to Bruins head coach Claude Julien, who can’t seem to play the front-runner this season despite three comebacks that have allowed for a 3-2-0 record overall this season.

“I hope it’s not a habit. It’s certainly not what we’re looking for, but there’s no doubt. I think it’s pretty obvious that with the amount of games we’ve played, five games, we haven’t scored first,” said Julien. “We talked about that this morning, trying to get that first goal, and it hasn’t happened yet.”

The start to the game wasn’t really the problem on Saturday night as it’s been a couple of times this season. Instead the Bruins enjoyed a handful of quality scoring chances in the opening 20 minutes against the Habs, but couldn’t come through and finish off those plays when it might have meant an early lead.

Instead it lead to what Julien termed a “terrible” second period that was flat, full of mistakes and ended with the B’s trailing Montreal by a couple of goals. The Bruins scratched and clawed their way to making it a one-goal game in the third period, but that was as close as the Black and Gold would get in losing their ninth straight home game to the arch-rival Canadiens.

“It’s kind of been a story about how things are going for us this far, we’ve got to find a way to start playing with a lead. If you don’t capitalize on your chances, you see what happens when you come out [flat] in the second period,” said Torey Krug, who finished a game-worst minus-3 in the loss for the Bruins. “We had another poor second period and you know it’s kind of… you got to make sure that we put our hand on that and it doesn’t become a thing for the team this year. You see that when you don’t capitalize on chances early, that’s what’s going to happen.”

It’s been a positive development that the Bruins have shown the willingness and backbone to fight back into games after early deficits, and they showed that quality once again on Saturday night by scoring a couple of goals in the third period to keep things close. But the Bruins would be best served if they can start lighting the lamp a little earlier in these games, and see how the other half lives by playing with a comfortable lead every once in a while.