Boston Celtics

Haggerty: Campbell makes Gordie Howe proud in win

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Haggerty: Campbell makes Gordie Howe proud in win

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.

How should Red Sox handle Chris Sale's pursuit of Pedro Martinez's strikeout record?

How should Red Sox handle Chris Sale's pursuit of Pedro Martinez's strikeout record?

BALTIMORE — Baseball records are so precise. When to pursue them, when to value them even if minor risk is involved, is not nearly as clear cut.

The Red Sox, Chris Sale and John Farrell have stumbled upon that grey area, and it will continue to play out in the final two weeks of the regular season.

Sale reached a tremendous milestone on Wednesday night, becoming the 14th different pitcher in major league history to reach 300 strikeouts in a single season. No one else has done it in the American League this century. Clayton Kershaw was the last to get there in the National League two years ago.

“It was really fun,” Sale said of having his family on hand. “My wife, both my boys are here, my mother-in-law. Being able to run out and get a big hug from him and my wife and everybody — it was special having them here for something like this. … I’ll spend a little time with them before we head to Cincinnati.”

Now, there’s another mark ahead of Sale: Pedro Martinez’s single-season club record of 313. And the pursuit of that record is going to highlight the discussion of what matters even more.

The tug-of-war between absolute pragmatism and personal achievement was on display Wednesday, when Farrell gave ground to the latter. 

The manager was prepared for the questions after a celebratory 9-0 win over the Orioles. His pitchers threw 26 straight scoreless innings to finish off a three-game sweep of the Orioles, and the Sox had the game well in hand the whole night.

With seven innings and 99 pitches thrown and 299 strikeouts in the books, Sale went back out for the eighth inning.

If you watched it, if you saw Sale drop a 2-2 front-door slider to a hapless Ryan Flaherty for the final strikeout Sale needed and his last pitch of the night, you surely enjoyed it. Records may not be championships, but they have their own appeal in sports that’s undeniable. 

But Sale could have recorded strikeout No. 300 next time out. Surely, he would have. He needed all 111 pitches to do so Wednesday.

In this case, the difference between 299 and 300 wound up being just 12 pitches. 

It’s doubtful those 12 pitches will ruin Sale’s postseason chances, particularly considering he was throwing hard all game, touching 99 mph. 

Nonetheless, the Sox hope to play for another month, and they've been working to get Sale extra rest. So, why risk fatigue, or worse, injury?

“The two overriding factors for me,” Farrell explained, “were the pitch counts and the innings in which he was in control of throughout. Gets an extra day [for five days of rest] this next time through the rotation. All those things were brought into play in the thinking of bringing him back out.

“We know what the final out of tonight represented, him getting the 300 strikeouts. Was aware of that, and you know what, felt like he was in complete command of this game and the ability to go out and give that opportunity, he recorded it.”

If Sale makes his final two starts of the year, he’ll break Martinez's record of 313. At least, Sale should. But he might not make his projected final start, in Game No. 162, so that he’s set up for Game 1 in the Division Series.

(So, if he could do reach 314 Ks in his next start, he’d make this discussion disappear — but 14 Ks in one outing is not easy.)

When should exceptions be made to let someone get to a record? Where do you draw the line? 

Would it be reasonable to get Sale an inning or two against the Astros in Game 162 if he was a few strikeouts away, even though he may face the Astros in the Division Series?

Letting the Astros get extra looks against Sale is a different matter than Sale throwing 12 extra pitches. But neither is really a guarantee of doom. They're small risks, of varying size.

Consider that if Sale is on, he should rough up the Astros no matter what.

What's 12 pitches Wednesday for a guy who leads the majors in average pitches thrown per game? Not enough to keep Farrell from letting Sale have a go at one milestone.

Will the Sox work to put Sale in position for the next?

Records don’t usually fall into such a grey area. Outside of the steroid era, anyway.