September 13, 2013

2013-14 Bruins Player Preview: Gregory Campbell

By Jesse Connolly

Leading up to the start of the season, New England Hockey Journal will be taking a look ahead to 2013-14 with a series of Bruins player previews throughout September. Today, we're predicting what's in store for Boston's fourth-line center, Gregory Campbell.

GREGORY CAMPBELL | #11 | Center

HEIGHT: 6-foot WEIGHT: 197 SHOOTS: Left

BORN: Dec. 17, 1983 – London, Ontario

DRAFT: 2002 – 3rd round (67th Overall) by the Florida Panthers

CONTRACT STATUS: Signed through 2014-15 ($1.6 million cap hit)

2012-13 STATISTICS: 4 goals, 9 assists, 13 points, plus-2 in 48 games

LOOKING BACK ON 2013

After an offseason that saw him re-up for another three years with the Black and Gold and a lockout in which he was one of the few Bruin who didn’t venture overseas, Campbell embarked on what was ultimately a fairly-quiet regular season.

The former Panthers’ 2010-11 campaign had many pegging the Merlot line as the best fourth forward unit in the NHL, but Campbell’s numbers dipped from 13-16-29 that season to 8-8-16 in 2011-12. He came close to replicating the latter in the 2013 campaign, but he finished with a meager shooting percentage of 7.7, his lowest as a Bruin.

Once the playoffs rolled around, however, Campbell and linemates Dan Paille and Shawn Thornton reminded us of the tremendous impact they’re capable of making. The trio came alive during the second round against New York, with Campbell potting three goals and an assist in the five-game series, helping eliminating the Rangers with two goals in the final contest.

After starting the conference finals with a pair of assists, No. 11 was knocked out of the lineup for the remainder of the playoffs on the now-famous play in which he suffered a broken leg blocking a shot by Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin, and subsequently remaining on the ice for nearly another minute to help the B’s kill of a penalty. Campbell finished the postseason 3-4-7 totals and a plus-7 rating in 15 contests. His reliability was certainly missed during the Stanley Cup Final against Chicago.

FIVE FACTS

1. Campbell won a silver medal with his future Bruins teammate, Paille, at the 2003 World Juniors with Canada.

2. Later that same year, Campbell captured the Memorial Cup with the Kitchener Rangers.

3. Of the players selected in the 2002 NHL Draft, Campbell ranks eighth with 569 career games played.

4. Campbell got in an all-too-rare playoff fight this past spring, squaring off with Derek Dorsett during Boston’s Game 2 win over the Rangers in the second round. It’s his only bout in 47 career playoff tilts.

5. Campbell’s last goal of the 2011-12 regular season, which came in an 8-0 win over Toronto on March 19, was the 50th of his NHL career.

LOOKING AHEAD TO 2013-14

The most pressing issue for Campbell going into the regular season, and the preseason for that matter, is if his still-healing leg is going to be a hindrance in the early stages of the campaign.

In comparison to most NHL squads, Boston’s fourth line sees a fairly high amount of ice time in general, and Campbell is often chief among them thanks to his work on the penalty kill. We may see his ice time scaled back slightly in the early stages if he’s not fully up to speed.

Outside of any potential physical hindrances, it’s hard to foresee and external factors having a big impact on Campbell’s potential offensive input in 2013-14. You can almost guarantee the center will be flanked by Thornton at the start of the season, and odds are high that Paille will remain on the left side.

PREDICTION FOR 2013-14

Carrying on with that previous point, I can’t foresee Campbell replicating what he and his line did in 2010-11, a season in which many forget that Boston’s fourth forward unit received a big initial boost from the play of Brad Marchand -- prior to No. 63 being promoted to play alongside Patrice Bergeron.

I expect more consistency from Campbell and the line as a whole, especially after Paille’s breakout-like year in 2013, so a slight bump in terms of points should be in order. Just don’t expect No. 11 and Co. to exceed the lofty expectations they’ve been trying to live up to since his stellar first season with the Black and Gold.

PREDICTION: 8 goals, 13 assists, 21 points, plus-6 in 77 games

Twitter: @JesseNEHJ
Email: jconnolly@hockeyjournal.com