Campbell scoring while Horton struggles

Campbell scoring while Horton struggles
January 21, 2011, 4:02 am
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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.