During the second period of Wednesday’s thrilling Bruins double-overtime Game 3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Finals the world got to see exactly what makes a hockey player so special.
With the Penguins on the power play looking to take a 2-1 lead in the game, Penguins star Evgeni Malkin fired a shot from the point, but thanks to a courageous effort from Gregory Campbell the puck didn’t make it too far. Campbell slid across the ice just feet away from Malkin’s shot and blocked the shot with his right leg. The veteran forward was in obvious pain but remained out there for the remaining 43 seconds as the Bruins killed off the man advantage and eventually would go on to win in double-overtime.
Campbell would not return to Game 3 and it was announced Thursday morning that Campbell suffered a broken right fibula and will miss the remainder of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The “merlot line” center skated in all 15 Bruins playoff games in 2013 where he tallied three goals and added four assists. Campbell’s biggest contribution comes on the penalty kill where he has been a key contributor to a penalty kill unit that has held the Penguins scoreless in 12 power play chances.
For Bruins head coach Claude Julien it’s easy to coach guys like Campbell.
“For what he went through, he showed a lot of guts to stay out there and to still try and play” said Julien. “Obviously it was a pretty serious injury, so that’s just the kind of player he is, and it doesn’t surprise me, it doesn’t surprise his teammates, but certainly it shows the character of that player, and that’s why we appreciate having him on our team.”
Despite it being a tie game at the time, the Penguins were dominating the Bruins, but the effort and heart shown by Campbell gave the Bruins the spark they needed. After seeing Campbell’s dedication the Bruins knew they had to win the game for their injured teammate.
“The fact that he took that shot and he couldn’t even move and he was still trying to play and get in the lane. He did a great job and we really wanted to play for him, and it just shows his character” said forward Brad Marchand who assisted on Patrice Bergeron’s game-winning goal.
“He’s always battling. He’s always doing whatever he has to do, and he’s been huge for us this playoffs so far.”
Just after Campbell made it to the bench and down the tunnel to the Bruins dressing room, the sold out TD Garden crowd thanked Campbell for his efforts with a “Campbell” chant.
“They know their hockey” said Bruins defensemen Andrew Ference. “Well, you don’t have to know hockey too well to see how gutsy that was, but I think this is obviously a city that appreciates that kind of effort. It’s not the first time they’ve seen effort from guys on that line and what they do and what they bring to this team. Like I said, appreciated by anybody that sees that.”
Now that Campbell is officially done and Game 3 is in the books the Bruins will turn the page and try to figure out who takes Campbell’s spot on the fourth line, luckily for the Bruins they have a deep group of forwards and have quite a few guys who can step in and help the Bruins try and close out the Penguins in Game 4 Friday night.
Most likely Kaspars Daugavins or Carl Soderberg will step in for Campbell, but regardless of whoever it is they won’t be able to replace what No. 11 brings to the table.
Campbell was seen in the Bruins locker room after the win, and the gritty forward was in good spirts.
“He was smiling, obviously” added Ference. “We had a little chat. You don’t want to see a guy hurt, anyway. That’s the game.”
The Bruins hope to make Campbell smile some more by completing the sweep in Game 4 to send the Bruins back to the Stanley Cup Finals.
In case you missed it, here is Campbell’s courageous effort.