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.

Amid signs his job might be in trouble, Julien says: 'I'm not quitting on this team'

Amid signs his job might be in trouble, Julien says: 'I'm not quitting on this team'

BRIGHTON, Mass – Roughly 12 hours after embattled Bruins coach Claude Julien bristled at a question about his job security and labeled it “shock journalism” in the heat of the moment after a tight loss to the Blackhawks, the B’s bench boss delivered a classy, heartfelt response to the same question.

Julien was asked about it in French by a reporter from the Montreal Gazette, but answered in English because of the “loyalty he feels to the people in Boston.”

In essence, Julien basically said he should be relieved of his duties if he’s deemed to be behind what ails the Black and Gold, but he’s going to keep working to fix things until that day comes.

It was exactly the kind of response you would expect from a coach who's taken the B’s to the mountaintop in his 10 years running the team and will always be respected and loved in Boston long after his coaching days are done.

“How do I deal with all of the rumors and all that is going on? I didn’t feel like [Friday night] was the appropriate time for me to answer that after a game where you’re emotions are pretty high. I wasn’t getting into that, but to be honest with you my job is to coach the hockey club,” said Julien. “Am I worried about my job? No, I’m not. Because it’s not my job to worry about it. My job is to fix things, and my job is to coach this team and do everything I can. If I become one of the reasons that we’re not doing well, then management has to make that decision.

“It’s not my decision to make. I’m not quitting on this team. I’m not quitting on anybody. I’m not quitting on management. I’m ready and willing to go through the hard times, and I said that at the end of last year. If it’s deemed my fault, then I shouldn’t be here, and that’s all I can say.”

While the Bruins roster is clearly less than perfect and has a larger dose of youthful players than in years past, Julien also freely admitted that they should be held to a higher standard after proving many nights that they should be a playoff team. That’s the mandate from Bruins ownership and that’s the challenge that Julien has willingly accepted.

It’s also the challenge that’s falling a bit short now as they’ve lost three crushing games in a row and have fallen behind the Ottawa Senators in the playoff standings, with Toronto also right behind them holding six games in hand.

“If we’re going with what we said we were going with and there’s going to be some growing pains along the way, so be it,” said Julien. “I think we put ourselves in a position earlier in the year where we could all of a sudden believe that we’re a playoff team...absolutely. I still think we’re a playoff team. Whether we can do it or not we’ll find out at the end of the year, but my job is to do everything I can to get us into the playoffs and that’s what I’m going to do.

“As far as the rumors are concerned, they’re out there and I know that. But I don’t worry about it because worrying is wasting a lot of my time. And my time is spent trying to fix things here.”

Julien and the Bruins are headed to Pittsburgh for a Sunday matinee against the Pittsburgh Penguins, and will have two games against the red-hot Pens headed into an All-Star break weekend that must feel like a well-earned oasis for Julien at this point in the season. 

Haggerty: Good, but not good enough, again the story for Bruins

Haggerty: Good, but not good enough, again the story for Bruins

BOSTON – The all-important results continue to elude the Bruins at the time when they need them most.

The Black and Gold lost their third game in a row, 1-0, to the Chicago Blackhawks at TD Garden Friday night when they allowed the game-winning goal with less than 90 seconds remaining in regulation. It was a simple defensive breakdown and some great tic-tac-toe passing with Marian Hossa finishing things off, but it also felt like a game where the Blackhawks coasted against a wounded Bruins team for 58 minutes before turning it on when it was winning time.

The winning goal was a cross-ice pass from Tanner Kero to Hossa, with the puck sliding right between the legs of Adam McQuaid in the slot, and Hossa picking a corner while giving Tuukka Rask zero time to react side to side.

“We had a game plan in place and our guys executed well, they were ready to play,” said Claude Julien. “One little mistake and it’s in our net, and you lose yourself a pretty important hockey game.”

So, now the Bruins have taken only one point in their past three games, have dropped behind the Ottawa Senators in the Atlantic Division standings and continue to skate around like they’re wearing the weight of the entire organization on their shoulders.

“At the end of the night it is another loss and that’s the biggest thing. Did your team play fairly well? I think so. I think we competed hard, but then again you’re dealing with some growing pains. We had an icing late in the game so that’s not necessary, but the winning goal that goes through three of our guys and in our net with a minute-and- a-half left,” said Julien. “We have to stand there again, and take the responsibility for our own actions. It’s unfortunate because that minute-and-a-half that was left in the game kind of tarnished everything we had done for the first 58 minutes.

“I thought we played pretty well against a good team. We had contained the guys that we needed to contain. We didn’t score any goals – I don’t think we did a good enough job there - we had some chances but again you got to find ways to score goals. That’s where we are at.”

Clearly, the Bruins didn’t give up a ton defensively and Rask had been solid for the first two-plus periods, but there was also a sense Chicago didn’t bring its best game either when Boston outshot the Blackhawks 17-6 in the opening period. It was also clear that, aside from a couple of good, early chances from Tim Schaller and Brad Marchand, along with a Joe Morrow breakaway chance, the Bruins offense wasn’t doing enough work to get closer to the Chicago net for any sustained pressure.

So, instead of a solid result with dark clouds swirling over Causeway Street that a big change is needed to jolt a stagnant team, the Bruins hang up another loss where they outshot their opponent and end up with nothing to show for it.

These are the kinds of losses that test morale and togetherness and could either be taken as a sign of things tightening up for the Bruins or of things continuing to spiral away from a team that just needs wins at this point.

“I’m sure everybody’s feeling down right now because we lost, but you can’t start pouting too much. You’ve got to move on,” said Rask, who allowed one goal on 22 shots in the loss. “[There’s a] big game coming up Sunday, and next week, so it’s a loss and we have to move on. [We have to] get ready for the next one. I’m sure guys are pissed today, but tomorrow’s a new day.”

Tomorrow is a new day for everybody on the Black and Gold including Julien, who is scheduled to still run practice on Saturday as the B’s bench boss before speaking to the media prior to the team leaving for Pittsburgh. So, it’s business as usual after another loss on Friday night in a classic Original Six matchup that’s clearly most of the luster from where it was at four years ago, but one can only sit and wonder how much longer business as usual cuts it for a hockey club that continues to flounder.