Notes: Kampfer sees his playing time dwindle


Notes: Kampfer sees his playing time dwindle

By JoeHaggerty

VANCOUVER It appears Steve Kampfer might be on the outside looking in for the time being.

The 22-year-old defenseman was a healthy scratch Tuesday night against the Calgary Flames, and Claude Julien may stick with that lineup against the Vancouver Canucks this weekend.

Were not going to rotate defensemen just to rotate. Theres a young player going through some growing pains, just like everybody else, said Julien of Kampfer. Hes struggling a little bit as of late with moving the puck and losing some battles.

Every once in a while those guys go through the growing pains, and youve got to take a step back with them, let them watch and then work harder in practice to get better in those areas. When youve got 22 players somebody has got to sit out, and right now were going with some of the experienced players. I thought Johnny Boychuk was going through the same thing a little bit, but then against the Flames I thought he found his game . . .

"Eventually those guys recapture their game through hard work, and through the competition part of it guys will get better. Were hoping thats what happens with Kampfer.

Kampfer has 4 goals and 5 assists along with a plus-10 for the Bruins this season, and has been a rookie revelation as a puck-moving defenseman capable of playing 20 minutes, manning the power play and filling an important role for the Bruins.

But he has only a single assist in his last 12 games and is just a plus-3 over that span. His ice time has been scaled back to under 20 minutes in each of his last five games.

All that preceded the healthy scratch against the Calgary Flames.

While it was clear the arrival of All-Star defenseman Tomas Kaberle was going to reduce Kampfers role, the Bruins are going with the six veterans as defensemen and looking for more experienced blueliners via free agency and trades.

Shane Hnidy was given a tryout Wednesday morning, and there have also been some discussions with other teams.

Credit Kampfer for keeping quiet and simply working hard, especially after the difficult experience of being scratched in his Detroit homecoming against the Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena.

But its uncertain when hell again crack the Bruins lineup.

An injury could potentially open things up for Kampfer, but hell still need to prove to the coaching staff hes not stuck behind a rookie wall while coping with the travel rigors of pro hockey for the very first time at the NHL level.

It could be a combination of things. Number one, hes in a different schedule now than what he was used to last year, said Julien. Its his first full season and at the same time hes a first-year player. Early on he was thrown into a situation where we needed him to a puck-moving defenseman, and he provided us with that.

Sometimes things eventually catch up to you a little bit, and you hit that little bump in the road. Right now, where he has a chance to get better is in the mental challenge part of staying with it and working hard and working your way out of it. That will make him a better player down the road. Youve got to make sure you dont push yourself out and get discouraged, and instead take a positive approach and say youre going to work your way out of it. That will make you a better player.

Its clear the coaching staff wants to see more out of Kampfer, but its not clear at all when the young standout defenseman will get his next chance outside of practice.

Milan Lucic had a large contingent of Vancouver reporters around him following practice on Wednesday morning as he held a press conference announcing that his number with the Vancouver Giants (No. 27) will be retired in the Ring of Honor along with other standouts in the Giants franchise.

Its a fitting honor for a Memorial Cup champion that also garnered MVP of the tournament in his final year of junior hockey, but its also something that truly humbled the ever-modest Lucic.

The two years with the Giants was somewhere that I could develop and got me to where I am now, said Lucic. Its an honor to be honored by the Giants, and its something Im really looking forward to.

In celebration of the honor, Julien instructed Lucic to take a victory lap around the ice waving to imaginary fans in the stands as his Bruins teammates clapped, hooted and chanted MVP to celebrate their teammates accomplishments four years ago. Lucic said it all brought back memories of the last time he played a game on the Pacific Coliseum ice while capturing the Memorial Cup back in 2007 before he made the difficult jump to the NHL.

All Bruins players were healthy and accounted for at Bostons practice at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver, and there was the distinct sense of lightness and good humor in the air as the Bs buzzed through more than an hour of work on the ice.

Julien had a little fun with the Vancouver media group when the subject came to Tim Thomas, and the season hes been enjoying thus far this season.

Hes . . . ah . . . struggled, said Julien with a smile on his face before giving a serious answer. No, hes played well. His season has gone a lot like last night. Hes been fabulous when weve needed him to be fabulous, and hes having a very good season.

Andrew Ference made the Darth Quaider nickname and T-shirts something of a sensation last week when he donned one in the Bs dressing room at Ristuccia Arena. Adam McQuaid enjoys the nickname and said he got all kinds of text messages from friends and family about the T-shirt last week but also sheepishly admitted that hes never seen the Star Wars movies that the nickname is based on.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

David Krejci, Adam McQuaid forced out of Bruins win with injuries

David Krejci, Adam McQuaid forced out of Bruins win with injuries

BOSTON – The Bruins returned Patrice Bergeron and David Backes to good health and their lineup on Thursday night, but they also saw a few more players get banged up in their win over the Vancouver Canucks. 

David Krejci exited Thursday night’s 6-3 win over the Canucks with an upper body injury after scoring a power play goal, and Adam McQuaid also had to leave the game after dropping to one knee to block a shot with his right leg. McQuaid was also already banged up after taking a shot off his knee in last weekend’s loss to the Vegas Golden Knights, so taking another shot off the leg certainly wasn’t a helpful development. 

“He blocked a shot, so he’ll get evaluated tonight or tomorrow. I don’t know how serious – he blocks a lot of shots. This one stung him obviously so we’ll see how it turns out. Adam [McQuaid] has been doing that for years around here. He’s one of the unsung heroes in that locker room. Doesn’t get a lot of credit for what he does, the tough parts of the game, blocking shots, sticking up for your teammates,” said Bruce Cassidy. “He actually manages the puck very well. He’s not a flashy player. He’s not a guy that just throws it away either. He makes good decisions with it, and every team needs an Adam McQuaid. We’re certainly fortunate to have him.”

With Krejci it appeared that he suffered some back spasms after getting cross-checked, and that’s what ended up forcing him out of the win. Cassidy doesn’t foresee it being a long-term thing with Krejci, who finished with a goal and two points in 8:21 of ice time centering Jake DeBrusk and David Pastrnak.  

“He has an upper body; he had to leave. He wasn’t feeling too terrific today, and then he got, I think there was a cross-check there. He tried it, but couldn’t continue [playing]. I think he had some spasms, but I don’t think there’s anything long-term there at all.”

It remains to be seen if either McQuaid or Krejci will miss any time with the bumps and bruised suffered on Thursday, but it goes without saying that the Bruins hope they can stay in a lineup that’s beginning to take shape with the full group. 

Haggerty: Patrice Bergeron returns as game-changing force for Bruins

Haggerty: Patrice Bergeron returns as game-changing force for Bruins

BOSTON – To the surprise of absolutely nobody, the presence of Patrice Bergeron is a major game-changer for the Boston Bruins. 

Bergeron finally felt good enough to return to the B’s lineup after missing the first five games of the season with a lower body injury, and the impact was immediate and unmistakable with a goal and four points in a 6-3 win for the Bruins over the Vancouver Canucks at TD Garden. It was also a far-reaching impact with the Bruins center pumping life back in the B’s power play with a return to his bumper position, returning a top penalty killer to the Bruins rotation, bringing normalcy back to the forward group by slotting fellow forwards back into their rightful spots and simply giving the B’s their best all-around player back. 


Clearly it was a joyous moment for Bergeron to get back on the ice and play after getting a couple of good days in on the practice ice leading up to Thursday night. 

“It’s hard no matter what it is. You know, when you’re missing games, when you’re missing time, it’s… you miss being out there with the guys and battling with them and going through what we have to go through as a team. It’s good to be back,” said Bergeron. “You don’t know what to expect obviously [after a long layoff]. You’re trying to hope for the best. I don’t want to say I was surprised [at his high level of play] because you want to be at your best every time you step on the ice.”

Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Anders Bjork finally skated together for the first time after building chemistry all throughout training camp, and they finished with four goals, 10 points, a plus-6 rating and 13 of Boston’s 35 shots on net for the game. It was the way that the Bruins roster was drawn up headed into the season before they had a five-game detour due to the injuries, and the hope is that’s the way it will continue to look for the Black and Gold moving forward. 

“I mean it’s pretty evident, you know, the way [Bergeron] played out there. He just, it’s incredible the way he came back and dominated the game after being out for that long, you know?” said Brad Marchand, who finally has his longtime partner-in-crime back. “He’s just such a big part of the group. He’s able to calm things down in the room, on the bench, and he leads by example. He just does everything that a top guy does.”

Perhaps most striking of all was the emotion and organization that the Bruins played with having Bergeron and David Backes back in the lineup. The breakouts, reloading counter-attacks and defensive zone coverage all had more noticeable structure, and the Bruins were able to get the wave after wave attack from their forward groups that spurred on goals both during 5-on-5 play and when special teams were involved. 

Some of that is getting two highly talented players like Bergeron and Backes back from injury, and some of it is getting an important, tone-setting leader like No. 37 back for everything he does off the ice as well. 

Bergeron set up the important answering goal in the first period by firing a puck that created a rebound for Bjork to clean up, he did the same for David Krejci’s power play to close out the first period scoring, he created the turnover that led to Marchand’s goal in the second period and then he sniped home his own goal from the bumper spot to finally clinch things in the third period. It was clear that Bergeron is still navigating through discomfort and some level of injury while playing at this point, but his hockey IQ and his gritty toughness are allowing him to still be a highly effective player. 

“I think it was self-evident out there that the play on the ice, first of all, built a matchup against whoever we really want. The Power play obviously [was a] big impact there. I think it’s just morale as much as anything, on the bench and in the room,” said Bruce Cassidy. “Those intangibles, leadership, first shift of the game, he’s standing up. They had scored a goal and [he’s] kind of settling the troops down, talking about the details of the game. 

“[He’s talking about] finishing your routes on the fore-check and reloading all the way to our zone.

[It’s the] stuff that coaches preach a lot, but goes in one ear and out the other sometimes. When you hear it from the leaders of the group, it means so much more. To have that back in the room and along with David Backes, those are guys that are just vocal players that bring a lot in that aspect. It’s generally, a quiet group. That doesn’t mean you can’t be effective and win as a quiet group, but it just helps sometimes to have a little bit of that energy.”

While it was a clearly a feel-good story to see Bergeron back in his proper environs on the ice, it was also just as apparent there’s still some lower body discomfort with the Bruins center. He looked like he was in pain or laboring at times out on the ice, and admitted after the game that the lower body injury might be something he’ll need to manage for the time being. That would tend to mean that once again this isn’t something that’s going to go away anytime soon, and Bergeron will again need to grind his way through the pain. 

“That’s the million dollar question, right? I don’t know what to say to that. I guess yeah, I mean I’m feeling good,” said Bergeron. “But there’s… we might manage a little bit for quite a while. But I’m feeling good and tonight was no issue.”

Clearly Bergeron and the Bruins will gladly take it if he can be a difference-maker like he was on Thursday night with a four points, eight shot attempts and plenty of hard-working shifts in his 20:58 of ice time for the game. They’ll just need to keep their fingers crossed that No. 37 can keep suiting up and playing at a high level, and that the 32-year-old can avoid any further problems after already sitting out the first five games of the regular season.