|Gregory Campbell on Game 7: ‘It’s where big players show up’||04.24.12 at 11:20 am ET|
Big players show up in big games.
It’s one of the time-tested adages used to describe Game 7.
But early on in those winner-take-all contests, it can sometimes be a bit player, or two, or three, who give the stars time to get their legs under them.
Certainly, that was the case in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals last June when Gregory Campbell, Daniel Paille and Shawn Thornton all came out guns blazing in the opening minutes, taking the play to the Canucks and setting the tempo so that the Sedin twins couldn’t get going.
“I think it’s important to really play on your toes,” Campbell said. “With a line ours, that’s our job, is to provide that energy, so in situations like Game 7, if you’re a little bit tentative, it’s usually not going to serve you well. We’re a high energy line, high energy players. In situations like Game 7, every play matters so much, there’s so much pressure on every play, it’s best almost better not to think and just use your instincts and that’s what we try to do.”
That’s what they did in Game 5 against the Caps on Saturday, when Thornton threw his weight around in the offensive zone with a couple of heavy forechecks. Moments later, the Bruins had goals 28 seconds apart to tie the game.
“I think for Game 7s, what I’ve learned so far in my short playoff career, it’s got to be a balance,” Campbell said. “You have to be ready. Game 7s are usually the most intense game obviously, because everything’s on the line. You have to control your emotions. You have to walk that line where you’re ready to go, your energy and enthusiasm is high. But if you can make plays under pressure obviously, it’s a pressure-packed situation. It’s usually the team that can make those plays and perform under pressure is the team that wins.
“Execute the game plan. It’s one thing to be excited and rightfully so, it is an exciting time of year. It doesn’t get any better than Game 7, whether it’s the first round or the finals. It’s where big players show up and to be a big player in Game 7 you have to have that balance of energy and excitement mixed with poise and confidence and be able to execute plays.”
Now, the Bruins have Game 7 on their home ice for the third time in their last four winner-take-all contests. Does it matter to Campbell and the Bruins?
“It’s something we work hard for all year long and I think you have to put some importance on having home ice advantage and working hard for it,” Campbell said. “I guess Game 7s, they’re something we as a team like. We keep putting ourselves in that situation. They’re fun to play in. Obviously, the stakes are pretty high and it comes down to a one-game series. We have to be as prepared as possible. It’s been a close series so far and we expect nothing but the same for Game 7.”
|Chemistry, Class: Gregory Campbell happy to see Shawn Thornton sticking around||03.19.12 at 2:33 pm ET|
Thornton, who was given a two-year contract extension over the weekend, has certainly left his mark on Campbell’s career, and Campbell knows it. The veteran center came to Boston as part of the Nathan Horton trade after playing the first six seasons of his career with the Panthers. He played on different lines in his time in Florida, but when he came to Boston, he established something with Thornton that has kept the two together from Day 1. He’d never been essentially tied to another player the way he is with Thornton, and he’s proud to be one third of one of the best fourth lines in the NHL. To him, Thornton makes that possible.
“No. I mean, no,” Campbell said when asked whether he had played with anyone in Florida as much as he’s played with Thornton. “I played with Radek Dvorak I think maybe for two years, but not as constantly as almost on a shift-by-shift basis with Thorty.
“It’s a role that I’m happy to play and he’s happy to play, as part of the depth on this team. It’s not too often that you throw out four lines, and obviously he’s a big part of the fourth line, and his role is interchanging all the time. I think that that position, that ‘¦ combination in the league is not very common any more, where you have a guy that’s obviously very physical and can fight, but that can play. That’s why he’s valued so much.”
Likely due to the fact that his extension has yet to be announced by the team, the always-accessible Thornton was not available to the media. With Thornton not present to speak, it’s no surprise Campbell was happy to share his delight with the news that the veteran enforcer will be sticking around for two more seasons.
“When your play against Thorty, it’s evident to see that he’s a hard-working guy, but once you’re on his team, you realize how important he is to the team, not only on the ice but off the ice [with] the leadership that he brings and the professionalism that he has every day. He has a hard job,” Campbell said. “I mean, there’s not too many guys in the league that can do what he does physically and also contribute not he score sheet once in a while. He’s a good player. I think he’s a real big part of this team, and it obviously shows with them giving him [a new contract].”
The Merlot Line, as Thornton dubbed it based on its burgundy-colored practice jerseys, has consisted of Thornton, Campbell and someone else for the last two seasons. Brad Marchand started on the trio before moving on to bigger and better things with Patrice Bergeron, and Daniel Paille took over from there.
While many teams don’t give significant minutes to fourth-liners, it was the Merlot Line that changed the momentum of Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals, as the trio of Campbell, Thornton and Paille turned in a big shift that broke up a much stronger start from the Canucks.
When Paille was hurt earlier this month against the Islanders, the B’s had to play defenseman Mike Mottau with Campbell and Thornton. The chemistry developed between the two is so strong that almost anyone could play on that other wing and it will work.
“I think we take pride in our job and our role,” Campbell said. “Sometimes it changes, depending on the game or whatever it may be. I think Thorty and I just have to be a reliable pair, whether there’s injuries or whatnot, we’ve been fortunate enough to be in the lineup for this long, and not being injured or whatever. I think it’s important for us to be that solid pair that can be relied up upon by the coaches and play different roles.”
As the Bruins have slowly shortened their list of free-agents to be, Campbell has seen his teammates get their new deals one by one. Whether or not his comes next remains to be seen, but Campbell doesn’t want to leave.
“Of course it’s where I want to be,” he said with a laugh as if to dismiss the notion of anything else. “This is a great place to play, a great organization and a successful one. Every player wants to play where they’ve had success and there’s more success to come. The important thing now for us, it’s really nice to see those guys get those extensions ‘¦ but the important thing is focusing on playing and not the other stuff.”
|Gregory Campbell: ‘We’re just going to have to do it the hard way again’||03.17.12 at 5:37 pm ET|
Anyone in attendance Saturday could most certainly sense the urgency from the Bruins from the opening puck drop with the Flyers. The Bruins have slumped big time in the last two months, falling out of first place in the Northeast Division, heading into their game against Philly. A win would put them a point back ahead of Ottawa, at least for the time being.
But the unfortunate part for the Bruins is that it had to come to this.
“Unfortunately, every game is big for us now,” Gregory Campbell said after the Bruins survived in a 3-2 shootout win over the Flyers. “We’ve gotten ourselves into a situation where we’re battling for position with Ottawa now, and a couple of other different teams. We want that home-ice advantage. With 11 games left, we’re unfortunately in a situation where every game is important. And I think you can look at that as a positive because we have to be at our best now, and going into the playoffs, that’s something that’s going to benefit our team.
“Tonight was big for us but one game at a time is our motto right now.”
There was a lot of talk afterward about maintaining the intensity the Bruins showed Saturday for the remaining 11 regular season games so that they have the right chemistry and momentum. The question is: Do the Bruins have enough steam to fulfill that mission and have enough left for another playoff grind?
“There’s a lot of leadership in this room,” Campbell said. “Everybody knows how to win. This team has been in some corners before and we’ve gotten out of them. It hasn’t been easy all year. And we gained a lot of experience and confidence from last year in the things we went through. We’re just going to have to do it the hard way again, take it one game at a time and one period at a time.”
|Why can’t the Bruins beat the Hurricanes?||02.01.12 at 4:22 pm ET|
They say that in order to be the best, you’ve got to beat the best. The Bruins’ problem this season is that they can’t beat the worst.
The Hurricanes will enter the Garden Thursday night with just 45 points on the season, which puts them dead last in the Eastern Conference, but they’ll also come in having won all three previous meetings against the Bruins this season.
For one reason or another, the Hurricanes have given the Bruins, who are a point out of first place in the conference, fits. Whether it was on Oct. 18, when Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic lost their cool on Tim Gleason late in the third period, or in their last meeting, when the B’s blew a third-period lead and saw Carolina score three unanswered goals, the Bruins simply haven’t been up to the challenge against perhaps the least challenging opponent in the East.
“To be honest, I don’t think we’ve played well against them,” Gregory Campbell said after Wednesday’s practice. “That’s no discredit to them. The first two losses came within a week, and that was probably when we were playing some of our poorest hockey of the season. I thought the last time we were in there, they played an awesome game. They were hard on us, and we weren’t prepared for that. We weren’t prepared to skate, and they were all over us. They basically smothered us, and they deserved to win that game.”
If there’s been one certainty with the Bruins this season, it’s been their dominant third-period play. They have a plus-66 goal differential in the third period this season, but the Hurricanes have even beaten them there. Only three Bruins opponents have outscored them in the third period this season: the Avalanche (who scored their only goal of the game in teams’ lone meeting), the Canadiens (who have scored four goals against the B’s in the third compared to Boston’s three) and the Hurricanes. Of those teams, the Hurricanes have the best third-period differential against the Bruins, as they’ve outscored Boston, 7-4, in the third period when the teams have met this season.
The Hurricanes recently locked up Gleason with a four-year, $16 million deal, meaning perhaps the best defensive option for the trade deadline has been taken off the market. It also means the Hurricanes will remain equipped to continue to bring it to the B’s as they continue to face them.
But for the Bruins and their struggles against the Hurricanes, they aren’t thinking about the opponent. They’re focused on the way they’ve played the opponent, and it hasn’t been up to par.
“I think it’s not really about us focusing on what they’re doing to beat us,” Campbell said. “It’s more so us focusing on brining our game and seeing what that presents.”
If the Bruins can win, perhaps they can use it as a springboard to get them back to where they were prior to their current stretch of sloppy play. The B’s are 4-3-1 in their last eight games, and failed to show up in the first 40 minutes before beating the Senators Tuesday with a third-period comeback.
“Things have slipped. It’s no secret in here,” Campbell said. “Claude [Julien] has been realistic with us. We’re not playing up to the potential we’re capable of. They’ve done their job. Our job as players is to get back to that, and it’s no secret. We just have to play our game like we did in November and December, and that’s a formula that brings success for us.”
Between their previous inability to beat the conference’s worst team and a desire to get back to the level of play they found during their 21-3-1 stretch, a lot of things can change for the Bruins Thursday night.
Said Campbell: “Good teams find a way to be consistent. That’s our issue right now.”
|Gregory Campbell’s Gordie Howe hat trick leads Bruins past Devils||01.19.12 at 9:31 pm ET|
Gregory Campbell led the way with a Gordie Howe hat trick as the Bruins got back to winning Thursday night, defeating the Devils, 4-1, in Newark, N.J.
Danius Zubrus set up Petr Sykora‘s 12th goal of the season late in the first period to give New Jersey the lead. The two teams played a scoreless second period before Andrew Ference tied the game with a shot from the top of the circle in the third period. Nathan Horton gave the B’s their first lead of the night on the power play, scoring his third goal in the last two games.
Campbell’s goal sealed the Gordie Howe hat trick for him, as he fought Brad Mills in the first period and assisted Ference’s goal.
The Bruins will next play Saturday when they host the Eastern Conference-leading Rangers at TD Garden.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
— One of the things that has made the Bruins such a good team this year has been their play in the third period — a time that they have used the period to either get leads or add to them. Thursday was no different. The B’s four unanswered goals improved their third-period differential to a whopping plus-37.
— Ference’s goal was his first in 25 games, but he’s still been having a very good season from a statistical standpoint. Ference isn’t relied upon for his scoring. His third goal of the season tied his personal best with the Bruins (he had three last season; four is his career high). Ference now has 18 points, which is the most he’s had in a single season since he had 31 with the Flames in the 2005-06 season.
— The Bruins are no strangers to scoring two goals in a minute, and they did it for the 14th time this season when Campbell followed Horton’s goal with a tally of his own. The shift that follows a goal is always a crucial one, and Claude Julien has often trusted the fourth line to take those important shifts. It paid off again Thursday.
— Thomas had allowed seven goals over his previous two starts entering Thursday night, but he was able to bounce back and bring his ‘A’ game to New Jersey, robbing David Clarkson on a rebound in the second period as one of 28 saves the reigning Vezina winner made on the night.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
— David Krejci‘s line continued to allow goals, something Julien called the trio out for Tuesday night. Krejci won the faceoff in the Bruins’ zone prior to the Devils’ first goal, but Zubrus got to the puck behind the net and fed Sykora. Because Horton’s goal came on the power play, he has been a minus-4 over the last three games.
— The B’s had just six shots on goal in the first period for the third consecutive game. The B’s have been plagued by slow starts in recent games, and though the B’s came out looking less sloppy than they did Tuesday, they still need stronger starts to these contests. They have one first-period goal in the last four games.
— The Joe Corvo–Dennis Seidenberg pairing has become dangerous for the Bruins. Corvo has struggled mightily in his own zone of late, and Seidenberg has been catching some really bad bounces. The B’s saw a couple of those in the second period, including one puck that bounced off Seidenberg and right to a flying Ilya Kovalchuk in the neutral zone, but neither cost the B’s.
— Brad Marchand, who was playing in his first contest since being suspended five games for his hit on Sami Salo, had a rather quiet return to the lineup. The second-line winger had no shots on goal Thursday night.
|Bruins happy to see that Tomas Kaberle has weathered the storm||12.19.11 at 12:58 pm ET|
Perhaps nobody will ever know what the Hurricanes were thinking when they gave Tomas Kaberle a three-year, $12.75 million contract this season, but he isn’t their problem anymore.
The Hurricanes dumped the underperforming Kaberle’s contract this month when they shipped the veteran blueliner to Montreal in exchange for Jaroslav Spacek. Thus far, Kaberle, who was a favorite among teammates in Boston, is proving that one team’s garbage can be another team’s gold.
In his first 27 games in Carolina, Kaberle registered only five points — all assists — and had a dreadful minus-2 rating and was even made a healthy scratch. After stringing together back-to-back games in his 28th and 29th contests for Carolina, he was sent to Montreal, and he’s been a point-a-game player since. In four games since the trade to Montreal, Kaberle has matched his total through 27 games with the Hurricanes in registering five assists. That makes him four points shy of the nine-point total he had in 24 regular-season games with the B’s last season.
“He’s come in and kind of helped settle our power play down,” Habs coach Randy Cunneyworth said Monday. “I think he’s done a great job of showing a lot of poise back there and finding the openings that are available to him. he sees the ice so well. He’s a guy that knows how to play back there, and he’s a guy that will do great work going forward. We’re pleased to have him on board. It was good timing, having him aboard, because we were kind of floundering on the power play, so we’ve kind of gotten into a better direction with him back there.”
For a guy who had a tough go of it in Carolina and even in Boston before the team won the Stanley Cup, the Bruins are happy to see him doing well.
“Kabby is a great, great guy, a great person, and he’s a really good player. He signed a really good deal,” Gregory Campbell said with a grin after Monday’s morning skate. “I don’t feel too sorry for him [for his struggles], but I think he’ll do well in Montreal. He’s used to playing in that market. Obviously he played in toronto for a long time, and he helped us a lot. I know he’s going to help them, just hopefully not tonight.”
Said Claude Julien: “Kabby was a great individual, and for whatever people may think of him, he helped us win a Stanley Cup. Maybe people didn’t see him as having as much of an impact as they all thought he would, or even ourselves, but he still brought a positive element to our hockey club and he certainly helped us control the puck from the back end onto the power play. What he’s done right now in Montreal is exactly what he’s known for — being a good power play guy, a good puck moving defenseman and I hope he succeeds because he deserves it.”
Kaberle was not available to the media Monday morning. He did participate in morning skate though, so that should dispel rumors that he was at a Hello Piggy Band concert.
|Morning skate notes: Zdeno Chara to travel with Bruins||12.13.11 at 11:49 am ET|
Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask will be between the pipes Tuesday as the Bruins take on the Kings at TD Garden. Bruins coach Claude Julien said after Tuesday’s morning skate that he intends to play Thomas Wednesday against the Senators.
Gregory Campbell was not on the ice for the morning skate. He will miss Tuesday’s game and will “probably not” play Wednesday, according to Julien. Campbell is dealing with a foot injury, and Zach Hamill is expected to center the fourth line in his place.
Daniel Paille, meanwhile, underwent a neuropsych evaluation Monday. The winger said the team was still awaiting results on the test, with Julien adding that he could play if he is cleared before the game. Paille took part in the morning skate.
Zdeno Chara (leg) did not skate, and will miss Tuesday’s game. Julien did say, however, that the captain will travel with the team to Ottawa Tuesday night. The coach said he was unsure whether Campbell would go.