- James Murphy, Bruins reporter, ESPNBoston.com
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BOSTON -- While there was plenty of buzz over the Bruins' 2-1 double-overtime win against the Penguins in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals, the real story at Thursday's optional skate was news that one of their heart-and-soul players, Gregory Campbell, will be out for the rest of the playoffs. Campbell broke his leg blocking an Evgeni Malkin shot in the second period.
The guts the gritty center showed in staying on the ice even after the injury to help his team kill a power play and keep the game tied at 1 was on everyone's mind.
“You get that from him every game. That's the kind of player he is,” coach Claude Julien said in his daily media briefing. “He's a real dedicated individual to his work and to his game, from off ice, to on ice, to taking care of himself, demeanor, everything else. What he did [in Game 3] surprised a lot of people but it didn't surprise us because that's just who he is, stay in there and make sure he finishes his shift. As a coach you probably wish he would have stayed down, but that's not his job.”
As Campbell remained on the ice, he actually tried to block another shot and helped chip the puck out of the zone. The capacity crowd at TD Garden began chanting, “Campbell! Campbell!” and continued as Campbell headed toward the dressing room.
Campbell's teammates appreciated his efforts and the recognition from the fans.
“It’s a thankless job and I don’t know how many people have broken a leg, but it’s not easy to stand on let alone skate around on it,” linemate Shawn Thornton said. “It takes a lot of heart to skate off on your own, and he even tried to block another one after that. So we’re blessed to have knowledgeable fans, and that’s a situation where they let it be known how they felt.”
In Game 3 of the 2011 Stanley Cup finals, Nathan Horton suffered a severe concussion from an Aaron Rome head shot and missed the rest of the series -- which the Bruins won in seven games, earning their first Stanley Cup in 39 years. The team used the Horton injury as a rallying call and plans to do the same with Campbell's injury.
“I think our team wants to do it for all the right reasons, and that's one of them,” Julien said of his squad rallying around Campbell. “When you see a guy go down like that and the way he went down and what he did -- what he's done for the team and what he did last night to block that shot -- the guys are going to want to rally around that. It's also got to be more than that, but he's certainly part of that equation.”
As for who will replace Campbell in the lineup and help the Bruins keep pushing toward their second Stanley Cup in three seasons, Julien wasn’t giving any hints Thursday.
“Well, we've got lots of options,” Julien said. “We'll look at it closer today and make a decision tomorrow.”
Regardless of who it might be that steps in for Campbell, the Bruins' bench boss is still confident the team can roll four lines.
“We've just got to make sure we get something out of all of our lines right now,” Julien said. “I think that's the most important thing for us, and that's where decisions are going to have to be made and how do we make it work so that we continue to have four lines.”
Thornton sees enough depth on the "taxi squad" -- or the group of reserves on call for situations such as this. As he pointed out, the Bruins have a variety of options -- from young Swedish import Carl Soderberg, who joined the team late in the season, to Kaspars Daugavins, whom the Bruins claimed off waivers near the trade deadline, to 38-year-old veteran Jay Pandolfo, who owns two Stanley Cup rings and has 131 playoff games under his belt.
“We have a lot of extra guys here,” Thornton said. “I’m not sure who’s going in, but if it happens to be 'Pando' [Pandolfo], I mean the guy has 130 playoff games and two rings. But ‘Doggy’ [Daugavins] has proven that he can play here and ‘Soder’ [Soderberg], even though he just got here, he looked good in those six or seven games that he played here. I don’t know the combinations and I’m sure I’ll find out tomorrow right around the same time you do, but it won’t change my game too much.”
Thornton knows that whoever is brought into the lineup will be physically and mentally ready. Two seasons ago, Thornton spent plenty of time on the "taxi squad."
"A couple of years ago I was with them for a few weeks, and it’s not an easy job to keep yourself game-ready just in case," Thornton said. "But they all know the playoffs is a long grind and they could be called upon anytime. I know they’ve been working hard on and off the ice, and whoever steps in, conditioning will not be an issue, that’s for sure.”