NEWARK There is no denying some heavy speechifying took place in the Prudential Center visiting dressing room between the second and third period in New Jersey Thursday night.
The Bruins were down 1-0 after two nondescript, colorless periods of hockey, and the tenor of the conversation was the enough is enough variety. There isnt more else to say after a couple of unsatisfying losses on a road swing through the NHL south home of the Unoriginal Six.
Bostons exuberant chatter and excited tones were certainly welcomed for a team furtively searching for answers, but decisive, productive action always serves as a much better solution than words. Gregory Campbell had already attempted to take action when he squared off with New Jersey rookie Brad Mills midway through the first period after a long conversation at the face-off circle a hockey chat described by Claude Julien thusly I thought their conversation was probably longer than the fight. At one point I didnt know if they were friends or what.
But all pre-fight conversations aside, Campbell pays devout attention to hockey details and doing things the correct way. All of those things have traditionally paid dividends for Campbell in his hockey career, and they did again in the third period as he collected two points amid four unanswered goals for the Bs in a 4-1 victory over New Jersey.
Seven of the nine points collected in Bs victory were supplied by Bostons third and fourth lines, and that was no mistake.
It took us a while as a team to get going, but I think the message was clear going into the third that we needed to be better, said Campbell. For our line we just wanted to establish our game, create that energy, move our feed and win some of those battles. They were just going in for us tonight.
The goal, assist and fisticuffs amounted to Campbells first career Gordie Howe hat trick and had teammate Chris Kelly acting as the postgame carnival barker in the Bs room urging reporters to go talk to Mr. Gordie Howe Hat Trick while they had the chance.
I guess its a good feeling because the goal, the assist and the fight all meant something, said Campbell, with the hint of a proud smile on his face. They are few and far between, the Gordie Howe hat tricks. But it was really important to me that our line contribute tonight.
Campbell was just happy to factor so prominently in a victory the Bs needed desperately after losing to Eastern Conference basement dwellers like Carolina and Tampa Bay.
The assist started up a play that eventually led to an Andrew Ference post-rattling goal to tie things up minutes into the third period, and the Campbell goal was an insurance strike in front of the net.
Shawn Thornton created a scoring chance rebound for Campbell with a rocket from the left point area that Martin Brodeur couldnt smother.
The whole scoring sequence for Campbells tally started with a Daniel Paille cross-ice pass, and showed how dangerous the fourth line can be with the right mixture of emotion and suffocating fore-check pressure. The fact Campbells goal arrived 35 seconds after Nathan Hortons power play game-winner lent it the kind of morale-crushing effect Julien was looking to inflict on the Devils.
They went out there and scored another goal for us, which was huge. I thought that fourth line played really well for us tonight and they looked a lot more like the line that we saw last year, said Julien. It was a nice thing to see. We were capable of having everybody going.
Thursdays glorious third period was the kind of throwback performance for both Campbell and his Merlot Line cohorts that reminded all of the impactful influence the Bs fourth line had on the Cup last year. It was also the perfect example of the inspirational courage Campbell inspires in his appreciative teammates: the center isnt the biggest body, he isnt the fastest skater and he isnt the most skilled offensive specimen.
But hes willing to do things to win that others simply arent.
Campbell jumps into some hockey fights knowing hes not likely to get the upper hand on his opponent, but he still throws himself into harms way with the knowledge it might spark his team. That willingness means its not always Groundhog Day with Shawn Thornton being forced into a fight whenever the Bruins need to snap out of something.
Campbell takes on some of the most difficult chores charged to a fourth line energy center, and he does it with aplomb.
Campbell is a gamer. Hell do whatever he needs to help this hockey club, said Julien. Hes not worried about winning or losing fights. Hes just worried about showing up, and thats what we appreciate him for.
Campbells courage is a much different kind of puck bravery than a 6-foot-5 bomb-throwing bruiser sure that most nights hell be the toughest mother on the hockey block.
But thats what makes Campbell admired among his teammates, and thats what allows him to tap into a deep reservoir of energy and fortitude when his Bs need him most.
Thats our job as a line: if were not creating energy then were probably not going to get back out there, said Thornton. Its all Campbell. He earned it tonight, thats for sure. He did some good work for us. He was our best player all-around tonight.
Hes a character guy. He doesnt look for anybody else to do it. He always puts a lot of pressure on himself to make sure hes impactful, and he did that tonight.
The Bruins needed him after taking the best punches New Jersey could muster through the first 40 minutes, and Campbell once again backed up all the locker room talk headed into the pivotal 20 minute with some high character hockey work.It's the kind of day's work in hockey that would Mr. Hockey himself nod in approval.