Kampfer's confidence continues to shine

Kampfer's confidence continues to shine
March 4, 2011, 4:11 am
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By DannyPicard

BOSTON -- One thing that Steve Kampfer's always shown is confidence.

It's a crucial trait for any defenseman in the NHL. Because even the best "puck-moving" defensemen in the league make mistakes. Just ask former Bruin Dennis Wideman.

Wideman was traded to Florida in the offseason for Nathan Horton and Gregory Campbell, for two reasons. One, the Bruins needed to add some scoring punch up front. And two, Wideman -- who had all the "puck-moving" talent in the world -- needed a change of scenery, because quite frankly, he was pressing in Boston.

Feeling the pressure is human nature. It happens.

And in a place like Boston, where the critics jump all over you at the drop of a dime, it makes for a tough town to re-gain that confidence, and keep your game in order.

Unless you do what Kampfer did on Thursday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning at the TD Garden.

The rookie defenseman made a costly mistake in the opening minutes of the second period, turning the puck over in his own zone, and then having the ensuing shot deflect off his body and into the Bruins' net.

It gave Tampa Bay a 1-0 lead, just four minutes into the second, in what was a showdown for second place in the Eastern Conference.

Kampfer attempted to make a breakout pass up the left boards, but it ended up on the stick of Lightning forward Blair Jones at the blue line, who kept the puck in and dropped it off for defenseman Eric Brewer in the high slot.

Brewer let one rip that re-directed off Kampfer and past Tim Thomas.

But Kampfer didn't have a "don't give me the puck" response. Instead, he made up for his crucial mistake two minutes later, taking a Rich Peverley pass from the corner, and sending a low slap shot from the right point past Tampa Bay goalie Mike Smith to tie the game at 1-1.

"It was a nice goal he scored," said Bruins coach Claude Julien. "We talked about our D sliding towards the middle there, and being a little bit more mobile there on the blue line, and that's what he did. It was obviously a big goal for us."

"I think today he got a couple shots through that created some scoring chances," said Milan Lucic, whose third-period goal was the game-winner. "Every team in the league, now, wants to get their D-men involved, and I think we do a good job of getting our D-men involved. they do a really good job of practicing, getting their pucks through, and in the games they get them through.

"As a forward, for myself, being in front of the net, it's nice to have D-men that are capable of that, and it's definitely good for him to get that goal."

Kampfer didn't return for the third period, after taking a hard hit in his own corner from Tampa Bay forward Mattias Ritola. Julien said after the game that he just "got his bell rung" and that he'll be re-evaluated further on Friday.

As of Thursday night, his status for Saturday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins is up in the air. But what's clear is Kampfer's ability to put a mistake behind him, quickly enough to where it won't haunt him the rest of the season, and prevent him from progressing further.

It's that type of confidence that Kampfer's shown all year, which is why he continues to make an impact on a Cup contender in his young NHL career, in a city that doesn't easily forgive or forget.

"It was good for him," said Thomas after Boston's 2-1 win. "I think he felt bad about the first goal. Even though, I don't think he should have felt bad about the puck going off him. That just happens. That's unlucky. But he had a chance to clear the zone before that. To see him come right back, and get it back, it was good for the team, that's for sure. And good for him."

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.