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The Bruins took a commanding 3-0 lead in the Eastern Conference Finals, but were dealt a big blow with Gregory Campbell going down with a broken leg late in the second period while killing a penalty. Campbell will now miss the rest of the post season and while it is a huge loss for the Bruins, the sequence of events during that penalty kill will put Gregory Campbell in legendary status in Boston sports history.
Campbell laid out to block an Evgeni Malkin shot from the point during one of the Penguins power plays. He was successful blocking the shot, but took it off an area between the top of his skate and shin pads where there is virtually no protection. He yelled in pain and everyone could see he was immediately hurt. Most players in this position would stay down, or try to get to the bench, but Campbell knew that would leave his team too vulnerable and showed how tough he is by getting up and continue killing the penalty. Struggling to move on the ice, he still was trying to get his body and stick in the lanes of potential shots on net. The Bruins finally cleared the puck out of the zone and Campbell was able to hobble off the ice to a huge ovation by the crowd and a pat on his back by his teammates.
This shows the kind of player Gregory Campbell is, and how he puts the better of the team first. If people did not know about Campbell and how he plays before this, they understand the type of player he is now. Campbell is great on faceoffs, a great penalty killer, will drop the gloves and stand up for his team, and can score a bit too. He is one player that will do anything for his team and gives amazing effort every time he steps on the ice. The Bruins have a history of rallying around key players on their team when they go down. When Horton got knocked out with a concussion in the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals, the team rallied to come back and win the Cup with Horton being an inspiration. I can see the Bruins doing a similar thing this year with the loss of highly respected and productive player in Campbell.
With the loss of Campbell, there are questions about who will take his place. The three candidates are Carl Soderberg, Kaspars Daugavins, and Jay Pandolfo. Daugavins played a little in the first series against the Maple Leafs, and plays a more defensive style, which are reasons he is the front runner right now. Pandolfo has been a great penalty killer over the course of his career, but is getting up there in age at 38 and is not in game shape. Carl Soderberg may be the most intriguing with his potential scoring ability, but his lack of NHL experience especially playoff experience will probably keep him out of the lineup.
With Daugavins being the player everyone expects to replace Campbell, the Bruins will most likely move Rich Peverley or Chris Kelly to center the merlot line and Daugavins will play wing opposite Tyler Seguin. Daugavins is a player who does not put up big numbers, or at least has not in the past, but he fights for the puck in corners and is responsible in his own zone. These are all things Claude Julien loves and that is why many think he will be the player that replaces Campbell for the rest of the playoffs.