Playoff run was still aces for idle Kampfer


Playoff run was still aces for idle Kampfer

By Joe Haggerty Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
BOSTON -- Steve Kampfer may not have actually played in the Stanley Cup playoffs, but he still had an amazing learning experience.

Kampfer suffered a knee injury at the end of the regular season that prevented him from skating for the Bruins early in the playoffs, and the subsequent rust made it unlikely the young blueliner would get into the postseason unless an injury knocked somebody out of the lineup.

But Kampfer did get to participate in the warm-up skates as a member of the Black Aces traveling with the team, and was in the dressing room leading up to some of the biggest Bruins playoff games in franchise history. Those memories and the lessons learned from a rookie season in the NHL should be beneficial to Kampfer and so many of the other Black Aces from the playoffs.

I think there is potential for improvement, said coach Claude Julien. The Black Aces saw a lot of things happening. They were with us for the whole playoffs and I think theyve got a lot of opportunity to grow and be around.

When you look at the players that we had, whether its Tyler Seguin now that hes got a year under his belt, Steven Kampfer was one of those guys and Adam McQuaid really did take a big step from the year before. Were hoping thats going to continue as far as our group is concerned.

When Kampfer did play last season he showed some telltale signs he was a rookie on the ice, but the defenseman also flashed many of the skills that the Bruins valued so heavily when they traded for his rights two years ago. Kampfer had 10 points and a plus-9 in 38 regular season games for the Bs, and in his best moments flashed the skating wheels, aggressiveness and vision key to being the puck-moving defenseman so highly valued around the league.

There were low points, of course. Kampfer suffered some mental lapses and defensive breakdowns in a road loss to the Nashville Predators in his last game before being dropped back to the AHL.

That came at the end of a stretch when Kampfers minutes tailed off and the consistency waned in his game, but the 22-year-old has learned from those lessons and arrived stronger than ever in camp this season. He paid close attention to defensive detail while tailoring his workouts this summer, and said he wants to be even faster than he was last season.

In an NHL built on speed thats a smart move by Kampfer.

Youve got to work hard and earn your spot and work hard every practice and every game. Its something thats going to be a challenge all preseason. You just basically work on the things that the coaches told you to work on at the end of last season, and work on the things that got you here, said Kampfer. The playoffs was awesome. Being in the warm-ups and being in the room with the guys before the game you cant even describe it.

It was a good feeling because you got to see what everybody was going through mentally and physically. Youre prepared for it if you find yourself in that situation.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

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.