April 5, 2011

Campbell, linemates clicking at just the right time

by Jesse Connolly

Bruins center Greg Campbell. (Getty)

WILMINGTON -- The rollercoaster that is an NHL season is often filled with numerous ups and downs. For the Bruins, you can file their stunning, last-minute collapse in a 5-3 loss to the Rangers on Monday night under the latter.

"It's a game of peaks and valleys, and sometimes you can have low points," center Greg Campbell said. "It's better now than having to handle a situation like that in the playoffs. It's not something we're happy about. The Rangers played hard and we give them credit for not quitting, but on the other hand they're a good team and you just have to move on."

While there were hardly any positives to write home about for the Black and Gold in their tilt at Madison Square Garden, Campbell and linemates Dan Paille and Michael Ryder had a strong showing that assuredly would've garnered more attention had the result been different.

Campbell won seven of the ten faceoffs he took against the Blueshirts and Ryder picked up an assist to go along with three hits, while Paille buried his third goal in the last six games after tallying just twice in his first 34 games.

"Obviously I think you can see the confidence growing in (Paille)," said Campbell. "I think for a player, the biggest obstacle is usually the mental game. It's tough to be in and out and have that level of confidence, and play a game so to speak. Obviously a couple goals definitely helps.

"He's a good player and has lots of speed. He's a big strong guy that controls the puck and has a good shot. For him, I think it was just getting over that mental battle within himself and finding his game. He's playing extremely well right now."

Campbell finds himself smack dab in the middle of two forwards that are likely in a battle for a spot in the lineup come playoff time.

"I don't think about it," Campbell said of the situation. "I enjoy playing with those guys as much as I enjoy playing with 'Thorty' (Shawn Thornton). Both of those guys bring a lot to the team. I think for our team we have a lot of depth and both of those guys are good players and help this team a lot."

As for Thornton, who could return to the lineup as soon as  Wednesday night after recovering from his oft-mentioned facial injury, Campbell said life has been strange without the Bruins enforcer by his side over the past week.

"I don't think he wanted to have to sit out those games because of that injury," said Campbell. "He's a big part of our team and he's a big part of our line. He adds a physical presence to our line and he's been really good for us this year. I feel like I've been a little naked out there the last few games. We've kind of been attached at the hip."

With just three games left until he officially skates in the first postseason game of his NHL career, Campbell knows that contributions from he and his linemates are just as vital as those that come from the go-to goal scorers. The former Panther is relishing the opportunity to step it up on the big stage.

"Not every night you're going to have to rely on your top players, the usual guys who put the puck in the net," he said. "In the playoffs you see it all the time with the unsung heroes, the guys that don't usually play that role come through big.

"It's one step at a time, but if we want to go deep and accomplish our goals, we're going to need contributions from everybody."