Notes: Kampfer sees his playing time dwindle

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Notes: Kampfer sees his playing time dwindle

By JoeHaggerty
CSNNE.com

VANCOUVER It appears Steve Kampfer might be on the outside looking in for the time being.

The 22-year-old defenseman was a healthy scratch Tuesday night against the Calgary Flames, and Claude Julien may stick with that lineup against the Vancouver Canucks this weekend.

Were not going to rotate defensemen just to rotate. Theres a young player going through some growing pains, just like everybody else, said Julien of Kampfer. Hes struggling a little bit as of late with moving the puck and losing some battles.

Every once in a while those guys go through the growing pains, and youve got to take a step back with them, let them watch and then work harder in practice to get better in those areas. When youve got 22 players somebody has got to sit out, and right now were going with some of the experienced players. I thought Johnny Boychuk was going through the same thing a little bit, but then against the Flames I thought he found his game . . .

"Eventually those guys recapture their game through hard work, and through the competition part of it guys will get better. Were hoping thats what happens with Kampfer.

Kampfer has 4 goals and 5 assists along with a plus-10 for the Bruins this season, and has been a rookie revelation as a puck-moving defenseman capable of playing 20 minutes, manning the power play and filling an important role for the Bruins.

But he has only a single assist in his last 12 games and is just a plus-3 over that span. His ice time has been scaled back to under 20 minutes in each of his last five games.

All that preceded the healthy scratch against the Calgary Flames.

While it was clear the arrival of All-Star defenseman Tomas Kaberle was going to reduce Kampfers role, the Bruins are going with the six veterans as defensemen and looking for more experienced blueliners via free agency and trades.

Shane Hnidy was given a tryout Wednesday morning, and there have also been some discussions with other teams.

Credit Kampfer for keeping quiet and simply working hard, especially after the difficult experience of being scratched in his Detroit homecoming against the Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena.

But its uncertain when hell again crack the Bruins lineup.

An injury could potentially open things up for Kampfer, but hell still need to prove to the coaching staff hes not stuck behind a rookie wall while coping with the travel rigors of pro hockey for the very first time at the NHL level.

It could be a combination of things. Number one, hes in a different schedule now than what he was used to last year, said Julien. Its his first full season and at the same time hes a first-year player. Early on he was thrown into a situation where we needed him to a puck-moving defenseman, and he provided us with that.

Sometimes things eventually catch up to you a little bit, and you hit that little bump in the road. Right now, where he has a chance to get better is in the mental challenge part of staying with it and working hard and working your way out of it. That will make him a better player down the road. Youve got to make sure you dont push yourself out and get discouraged, and instead take a positive approach and say youre going to work your way out of it. That will make you a better player.

Its clear the coaching staff wants to see more out of Kampfer, but its not clear at all when the young standout defenseman will get his next chance outside of practice.

Milan Lucic had a large contingent of Vancouver reporters around him following practice on Wednesday morning as he held a press conference announcing that his number with the Vancouver Giants (No. 27) will be retired in the Ring of Honor along with other standouts in the Giants franchise.

Its a fitting honor for a Memorial Cup champion that also garnered MVP of the tournament in his final year of junior hockey, but its also something that truly humbled the ever-modest Lucic.

The two years with the Giants was somewhere that I could develop and got me to where I am now, said Lucic. Its an honor to be honored by the Giants, and its something Im really looking forward to.

In celebration of the honor, Julien instructed Lucic to take a victory lap around the ice waving to imaginary fans in the stands as his Bruins teammates clapped, hooted and chanted MVP to celebrate their teammates accomplishments four years ago. Lucic said it all brought back memories of the last time he played a game on the Pacific Coliseum ice while capturing the Memorial Cup back in 2007 before he made the difficult jump to the NHL.

All Bruins players were healthy and accounted for at Bostons practice at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver, and there was the distinct sense of lightness and good humor in the air as the Bs buzzed through more than an hour of work on the ice.

Julien had a little fun with the Vancouver media group when the subject came to Tim Thomas, and the season hes been enjoying thus far this season.

Hes . . . ah . . . struggled, said Julien with a smile on his face before giving a serious answer. No, hes played well. His season has gone a lot like last night. Hes been fabulous when weve needed him to be fabulous, and hes having a very good season.

Andrew Ference made the Darth Quaider nickname and T-shirts something of a sensation last week when he donned one in the Bs dressing room at Ristuccia Arena. Adam McQuaid enjoys the nickname and said he got all kinds of text messages from friends and family about the T-shirt last week but also sheepishly admitted that hes never seen the Star Wars movies that the nickname is based on.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Acciari, Heinen called back up to Bruins

Acciari, Heinen called back up to Bruins

BRIGHTON, Mass. – The Bruins made a few roster moves after a slogging 4-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche earlier this week, with an eye toward getting some competition going among the forward group, and perhaps spark a team struggling offensively.

Danton Heinen and Noel Acciari were brought up from Providence to skate with the big club on Saturday morning at Warrior Ice Arena and gritty Anton Blidh was returned to the P-Bruins after a solid stint as a fourth-line energy guy for the Black and Gold. 

Jimmy Hayes and Colin Miller were the late skaters off the ice following morning skate, so those will be the healthy scratches for the Bruins with both Acciari and Heinen in the lineup for the Black and Gold tonight against the Toronto Maple Leafs at TD Garden.

Heinen has been tearing it up for the P-Bruins lately with four goals and seven points in his past five games with a plus-2 rating, including a couple of two-goal games for a Providence team that’s starting to heat up. 

Otherwise, things looked fairly similar for the Black and Gold, who didn’t make any changes to the struggling top power-play unit that was a disaster on Thursday night in the first period. It was Patrice Bergeron in the bumper role, Ryan Spooner on the half-wall, David Backes at the front of the net and David Krejci and Torey Krug manning the point positions. 

Here are the Bruins projected line combos and D-pairings based on the morning skate: 

 
Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

Heinen-Krejci-Backes

Spooner-Nash-Czarnik

Schaller-Moore-Acciari/Hayes

 
Chara-Carlo

Krug-McQuaid

Morrow-K. Miller

C. Miller

Rask

 

Bruins power play looking for some upgrade answers

Bruins power play looking for some upgrade answers

BOSTON - It would appear things can’t continue the way they are for the Bruins' power play. 

After a disastrous first period helped dig them a hole in a 4-2 loss to the lowly Colorado Avalanche on Thursday night, there was some pretty serious soul-searching going with a man-advantage that has been both toothless and mistake-prone on far too many nights. 

In the Colorado loss a couple of early power-play possessions, one that was completely ineffectual with zero meaningful possession or shots on net and then a second that turned into a Nathan MacKinnon shorthanded goal, dropped the B’s into a hole they couldn’t climb out of. The shorthanded sequence was particularly damning with a desperate Torey Krug diving to keep a puck in the offensive zone, and then watching helpless as MacKinnon beat him to the loose puck and then took off down the ice behind the last line of B’s defense. 

Krug placed the blame on himself for the high-risk play at the offensive blue line, but it’s hard to wholly blame somebody that was using hustle to try and make something happen offensively. 

“I thought they were tired, and if I could keep it in then we keep them hemmed in and get them running around. At the end of the day, it’s a 50-50 play, but maybe early in my career, I learn that now and probably won’t do it anymore. Sometimes you’ve got to go through those things to learn,” said Krug. “It’s just one of those plays I thought instinctively I could get there and keep him hemmed in, and you could even tell when he went in on the breakaway that he was tired.

So, if I keep that in and we keep them hemmed in, hopefully we get a couple chances. But we’ve got to be better, some of our better players on our team, and we’ve got to take the onus on ourselves to start capitalizing on opportunities and changing the game for our team.”

Nobody is going to reasonably suggest that a dangerous power-play guy like Krug be removed from the special-teams unit, but clearly something needs to change. The Bruins are tied for 25th in the NHL on the power play with a 14.1 percent success rate, and they can’t blame lack of opportunities because they’re middle of the road when it comes to power-play chances this season. 

Only the Flyers, Stars and Blackhawks have allowed more shorthanded goals than the Bruins (four) in 28 games played as well, so the Black and Gold essentially aren’t playing good defense or offense on the power play this year. Krug saie that it’s a mindset thing and that the Bruins need to get back to the confident, energetic way they attacked penalty kills last season. 

“We want to make plays, we want to help our team. It’s not like we’re out there not trying to make plays or anything, but we just have to be better,” said Krug. “We’ve got to have better focus, crisper passes, making quick plays to the net and making things happen. I feel like right now we might just be standing there, [just kind of] static, just hoping that things are going to happen and we’re not making them happen. 

“So, we’ve got to change our mindset, and like I said, those guys on that unit are the guys that will go to work and make sure we’re better next time for our team.”

But it goes beyond simple approach. The Bruins lost their second-leading PP goal-scorer last season when Loui Eriksson signed with the Vancouver Canucks. Other top unit PP performers like David Krejci,  Krug and Ryan Spooner haven’t been as good this season. Still, perhaps the biggest reason is the all-around offensive disappearance of Patrice Bergeron, who had 12 goals and 13 assists on the PP last season for a team-best 25 power-play points. This season, Bergeron has one goal and two points on the PP in 25 games and has been neutralized by opposing penalty kills from his “bumper” position roving up and down the slot. 

The Bruins are determined to ride things out with Bergeron both five-on-five and on the PP, and rightfully so, given his quality, productive body of work with the Bruins. He’s Boston’s best player and you don’t ever go away from those guys. 

But Bergeron has been ordinary for the Bruins on the PP after being extraordinary last season, and not much is going to change with the B’s man advantage unless No. 37 begins to find the range, confidence and short-term quick burst that’s needed for the B’s power play to flow through him like a well-oiled scoring machine. A greater impact by David Backes on the net-front power play could help and an uptick in PP production from Krug, Krejci and Spooner would obviously be welcome for the Black and Gold. 

But the Bruins power play is designed to play off Bergeron’s many qualities and strengths when he’s at his best, and a big part of the B’s troubles and Bergeron’s troubles are linked together because No. 37 has been less than his best in a season that’s been challenging for him from the very beginning.