By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com 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.