BOSTON (CBS) – The pampered designated hitter in this town, that has more than 2,000 hits to his credit, tends to complain about scoring chances that might deter him from adding to his totals regardless of how well his team is playing or if his club is in a slump.
Then there’s Bruins center Gregory Campbell, whose single-season career high for goals is 13 and who has just 61 goals in more than 600 games.
When he had a goal taken away last Saturday by the official scorer during a 4-2 loss to the Washington Capitals, his postgame response to a question about it was “I don’t want to comment.”
A couple days later a league review of the play switched the goal back from Shawn Thornton to Campbell. It was an odd way to start a hot streak, but with his goal in the Bruins’ 3-0 dismantling of the Capitals in a revenge game Thursday at TD Garden, Campbell now has four goals in four games.
“Well, we lost the game. It doesn’t really matter at that point,” Campbell explained Thursday about why he didn’t campaign harder for credit on the last Saturday’s goal. “This team’s about team play, it’s not really about [the individual].”
That team play that’s kept the Bruins atop the Atlantic Division for most of this season and had them in championship contention for much of the past three season (including two trip to the Stanley Cup finals), requires everyone to contribute.
Campbell, who’s not relied upon for much offense, had scored one goal in 30 games before the powers that be returned to him what was rightfully his in the aftermath of the loss to Washington.
For Boston’s four-line attack, that just doesn’t cut it.
Although he didn’t know he had the goal from the night before, Campbell went out on Sunday in New York and burned the Rangers for two goals, both with net drive. He didn’t score Tuesday against the Florida Panthers, but his tip of a Patrice Bergeron shot at 8:20 of the second period sucked out whatever air was in the Capitals’ lungs on the second night of their back-to-back situation.
It was a classic Campbell goal, as he got position and got enough of the puck to make it eluded Washington goaltender Braden Holtby. Campbell, who sometimes stays out on the practice ice until they turn the lights off him, is famous for practicing those tips until he’s satisfied with his work effort.
Although it might seem like Campbell’s hot streak is the product of karma for being unselfish when it came to the mistaken scoring decision of a few days ago, he attributes his scoring explosion more to his exertion.
“No I just feel it’s about working harder and trying to pick the pace up of my game, expecting a lot of myself and trying to get the most of myself,” he said. “So goals come in bunches, and it’s great to score. I mean I’ll take a goal every night if I could. But it’s really about having a better pace to my game.”
On Boston’s fourth line, Campbell’s obviously not alone.
Shawn Thornton and Daniel Paille have followed Campbell’s lead and picked up their pace.
Coach Claude Julien has rewarded his “Merlot Line” with a little more ice time lately, which is necessary to make the Bruins a better team and preserve some of the better players for a grueling stretch run.
Campbell conserved his energy by getting back to work rather than squabbling over what was on the score sheet last week. That’s why he’s the perfect player for the role he plays and can sometimes produce above the expectations of that role.
He’s one of the least spoiled athletes in this town, but the Bruins are privileged to have him.
Matt Kalman covers the Bruins for CBSBoston.com and also contributes to NHL.com and several other media outlets. Follow him on Twitter @TheBruinsBlog.
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