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Campbell's recipe of determination helps define the Bruins

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff  June 6, 2013 09:17 AM

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Camp-bell! Camp-bell! Camp-bell!

Do yourself a favor if you haven’t already this spring. Flip back and forth between a playoff hockey game and a regular season baseball game. The experience is something akin to bungee jumping and suddenly hitting a bird on the way down. You’re still conscious, you’re still soaring, but you’re also taking stock of where exactly the thrill disappeared and climbing that ladder as quickly as you can to get it back.

We make that analogy not to deride baseball, simply to point out the obvious. Oh, and in case you missed it, Jacoby Ellsbury missed his fifth straight game Wednesday night at Fenway Park with a sore groin while across town, Gregory Campbell helped kill a power play on a broken leg. Last month, Clay Buchholz missed a start because (ahem) he slept wrong with an infant. Meanwhile, Gregory Campbell helped kill a power play in Game 3 against the Penguins on a broken leg.

Patrice Bergeron may be sporting the Army Rangers jacket after his game-winning goal in double overtime gave the Bruins a 2-1 win over Pittsburgh in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference final, but yes, Gregory Campbell indeed stole the show. I don’t even care, use whatever cliché you want to describe him. Make Crash Davis blush. “Heart of a champion.” “Warrior.” “Gamer.” “One fibula at a time.” They all apply.

The one he’ll be remembered as after that play is simple. “Bruin.”

"Not like anybody questions what kind of guts he had, but it's pretty neat to see a guy just back up how tough everybody knows he is," Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference said. "I mean, that's the epitome of what it takes to be at this point in the playoffs. He really puts the extra effort in to trying to stop a really good power play and unfortunately, has trouble there. But that whole line, I think, has garnered respect from our dressing room and the fans for what they've always done for us. And that's just another thing to kind of put on the list of why they're so important for us."

We’re a long way from enjoying a DVD of this Bruins postseason, but if one were to come, Campbell’s gusty play in Game 3 will indeed be a focal point. About halfway through the second period, with the Penguins on their third power play of the evening, Campbell blocked a shot by Evgeni Malkin, and crumpled to the ice in pain. The power play continued around him as he writhed in agony, but somehow got to his feet, like Vader dragging his body up to make a last-ditch effort to save his son. He stayed out there, limping on one skate, reaching his stick out to block a key pass that broke up a play. And when the power play was over – 50 seconds after one of the toughest displays the Garden has seen in a long while - and the puck cleared, he made his way to the bench.

Camp-bell! Camp-bell! Camp-bell!

The chants showered from the Garden rafters with praise for the Bruins’ popular fourth-line center, in recognition of the determination he had shown. As has now been reported by ESPNBoston.com, Campbell suffered a broken leg on the Malkin blocked shot, which makes the nature of the play grow ever instantaneously.

“We tried to rally around him,” Bergeron said, probably sheepishly accepting the jacket that rightfully belonged to Campbell. “We tried to do it for him.”

Think about the impact Campell’s show of toughness showed. Particularly during an evening when the legends of Bergeron, Tuukka Rask (53 saves), and yes … Claude Julien grew to historic proportions in Boston, the moments everyone is talking about on Thursday are the 50 seconds during which a fourth-liner showed grit and heart during a penalty kill. The Boston Bruins are averaging one goal per period in this series, while the offensive powerhouse Penguins have scored at the shocking rate of 0.18 per frame. Boston can do the unthinkable Friday night and complete the sweep in Boston, setting up another Stanley Cup final appearance. And it’s not because of superstars like Malkin or Sidney Crosby or (cough) Jarome Iginla, but because of guys like Gregory Campbell, players who know their role and have bought into the system. “Heart and soul guys.”

Bruins.

"For what he went through, he showed a lot of guts to stay out there and to still try and play," Julien said. "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."

Campbell is likely gone for the remainder of the playoffs. He still might be back before Ellsbury.

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About the Author

Eric Wilbur is a Boston.com sports columnist who is still in awe of what Dana Kiecker pulled off that one time in Toronto. He lives in the Boston area with his wife and three children. Comments and suggestions for the best Buffalo wing spots are encouraged.

Contact Eric Wilbur by e-mail or follow him on Twitter.

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