Campbell 'humbled' by loss of hockey during NHL lockout


Campbell 'humbled' by loss of hockey during NHL lockout

Gregory Campbell spent the last month working out with the OHLs Kitchener Rangers, but hopped on a plane back to Boston as quickly as possible Sunday once word arrived that the NHL lockout was over.

As players were all so glad to move on from all of this. Thats the most important thing of all, said Campbell. Being back with my teammates was really fun. Knowing that were going to be playing soon and knowing that the guys are filtering back into Boston, it makes me really, really happy.

The Bruins fourth line center was one of the few Bruins skaters that didnt make it over to Europe at any point over the last four months. So instead he opted to head back to his former junior hockey team and joined Dennis Wideman in working out with Kitchener in structured, high-paced practices. It was clear that benefited Campbell when he hopped back on the Agganis Arena ice with his teammates on Monday morning, and he was feeling ready to get back to work with linemates Daniel Paille and Shawn Thornton.

When the season does begin Campbell will be starting a three-year deal worth 4.8 million, and hopes to be able to keep up with the guys that were taking regular shifts in Europe.

Its tough to say. Ive tried hard to stay committed and be prepared. Ive worked hard off the ice and skated five days a week with the Kitchener team back home, said Campbell. Its not pro level, but Ive tried my hardest to address the things I needed to work on.

But its tough to prepare for certain things required for game action. Its going to be an adjustment for everyone.

Campbell, always one of the most thoughtful players on the Bs roster, appeared extremely happy to put the NHL lockout nightmare behind him, but also understood there is work to be done to win back hockey fans. Not so much in Boston where the Black and Gold Faithful are expected to come back in droves for a competitive team, but in other areas of North America where franchises might be in trouble.

Campbells family has been associated with the NHL for a long time, and its clear he personally wants to help clear away the negativity left by the lockout.

Its been a frustrating process. What I can say about this process is that its been very humbling. We also live, eat, breathe and sleep hockey and its been our identity for our entire lives, said Campbell. For us not to be able to play hockey for any reason is humbling; it makes you think about a lot of things. It makes you realize how lucky you are to play and to do what you love for a living.

It would be selfish for us to think we were the only ones affected by this lockout. There are a lot of fans that are passionate about the game, and there are a lot of people that work around the game and work in the arenas -- that are passionate about it as well.

Now its time for all those passionate about the NHL to get back to the business of hockey, and that starts with the rank-and-file players just like Campbell.

STANLEY CUP FINALS: Guentzel's goal lifts Penguins by Predators 5-3 in Game 1


STANLEY CUP FINALS: Guentzel's goal lifts Penguins by Predators 5-3 in Game 1

PITTSBURGH - Pittsburgh rookie Jake Guentzel beat Nashville's Pekka Rinne with 3:17 left in regulation to put the Penguins ahead to stay in a 5-3 victory in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday night.

Guentzel snapped an eight-game goalless drought to help the defending champions escape after blowing a three-goal lead.

Nick Bonino scored twice for the Penguins. Conor Sheary scored his first of the playoffs and Evgeni Malkin scored his eighth. The Penguins won despite putting just 12 shots on goal. Murray finished with 23 saves for the Penguins, who used the first coach's challenge in finals history to wipe out an early Nashville goal and held on despite going an astonishing 37:09 at one point without a shot.

Game 2 is Wednesday night in Pittsburgh.

Ryan Ellis, Colton Sissons and Frederick Gaudreau scored for the Predators. Rinne stopped just seven shots.

The Penguins had all of three days to get ready for the final following a draining slog through the Eastern Conference that included a pair of Game 7 victories, the second a double-overtime thriller against Ottawa last Thursday.

Pittsburgh downplayed the notion it was fatigued, figuring adrenaline and a shot at making history would make up for any lack of jump while playing their 108th game in the last calendar year.

Maybe, but the Penguins looked a step behind at the outset. The Predators, who crashed the NHL's biggest stage for the first time behind Rinne and a group of talented defenseman, were hardly intimidated by the stakes, the crowd or the defending champions.

All the guys from the place dubbed "Smashville" have to show for it is their first deficit of the playoffs on a night a fan threw a catfish onto the ice to try and give the Predators a taste of home.

The Penguins, who led the league in scoring, stressed before Game 1 that the best way to keep the Predators at bay was by taking the puck and spending copious amounts of time around Rinne. It didn't happen, mostly because Nashville's forecheck pinned the Penguins in their own end. Clearing attempts were knocked down or outright swiped, tilting the ice heavily in front of Murray.

Yet Pittsburgh managed to build a quick 3-0 lead anyway thanks to a fortunate bounce and some quick thinking by Penguins video coordinator Andy Saucier. Part of his job title is to alert coach Mike Sullivan when to challenge a call. The moment came 12:47 into the first when P.K. Subban sent a slap shot by Murray that appeared to give the Predators the lead.

Sullivan used his coach's challenge, arguing Nashville forward Filip Forsberg was offside. A lengthy review indicated Forsberg's right skate was in the air as he brought the puck into a zone, a no-no.

It temporarily deflated Nashville and gave the Penguins all the wiggle room they needed to take charge.

Malkin scored on a 5-on-3 15:32 into the first, Sheary made it 2-0 just 65 seconds later and when Nick Bonino's innocent centering pass smacked off Nashville defenseman Mattias Ekholm's left knee and by Rinne just 17 seconds before the end of the period, Pittsburgh was in full command.

It looked like a repeat of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals against Ottawa, when the Penguins poured in four goals in the first period of a 7-0 rout.

Nashville, unlike the Senators, didn't bail. Instead they rallied.

Ellis scored the first goal by a Predator in a Stanley Cup Final 8:21 into the second. Though Nashville didn't get another one by Murray, they also kept Rinne downright bored at the other end. Pittsburgh didn't manage a shot on net in the second period, the first time it's happened in a playoff game in franchise history.

Nashville kept coming. Sissons beat Murray 10:06 into the third and Gaudreau tied it just after a fruitless Pittsburgh power play.

No matter. The Penguins have become chameleons under Sullivan. They can win with both firepower and precision.

Guentzel slipped one by Rinne with 3:17 to go in regulation and Bonino added an empty netter to give Pittsburgh early control of the series.

Harper, Strickland throw punches in Nationals-Giants brawl


Harper, Strickland throw punches in Nationals-Giants brawl

SAN FRANCISCO - An enraged Bryce Harper charged the mound, fired his helmet and traded punches to the head with San Francisco reliever Hunter Strickland after getting hit by a fastball, setting off a wild brawl Monday during the Washington Nationals' 3-0 win over the Giants.

Drilled in the right hip by a 98 mph heater on Strickland's first pitch in the eighth inning with two outs, none on and Washington ahead 2-0, Harper didn't hesitate. The slugger pointed his bat at Strickland, yelled at him and took off.

No one got in Harper's way as he rushed the mound. His eyes were wide as he flung his helmet - it sailed way wide of Strickland, it might've slipped - and they started swinging away. The 6-foot-4 Strickland hit Harper in the face, then they broke apart for a moment before squaring off again. Harper punched Strickland in the head as the benches and bullpen emptied.

Giants teammates Michael Morse and Jeff Samardzija collided hard as they tried to get between the two fighters. Three Giants players forcefully dragged Strickland from the middle of the pack all the way into the dugout, while a teammate held back Harper.

Harper and Strickland were both ejected. They have some history between them - in the 2014 NL Division Series, Harper hit two home runs off Strickland, and the All-Star outfielder glared at the reliever as he rounded the bases after the second shot in Game 4.