Gregory Campbell‘s season is over after he blocked a rocket off the stick of Evgeni Malkin.
His teammates were grateful but nowhere near surprised Wednesday night that Soupy sacrificed his body on the ice for his team.
What should also be understood about this play is that Campbell blocked a shot during a tie game against the best team in the East during the second period of a conference finals matchup. That alone speaks volumes of the player. But the thing with Campbell is, whether it’s Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals or Game 3 of the regular season, he’s blocking that shot — or at least doing whatever he can to block that shot — every chance he gets.
“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,” head coach Claude Julien said after the Bruins’ 2-1 double-overtime win.
Campbell is why Bostonians know that losing a fourth liner is just as devastating to a playoff team as losing a first liner. Campbell is also the type of player who can travel in a franchise time machine and fit in with any Bruins team from any era. He’s tough, he’s dependable and he doesn’t think twice when it comes to doing what he’s supposed to do — and that’s to do whatever it takes to put his team in position to succeed. He’s a Bruin — a big, bad Bruin, and players like him are why this franchise continues to succeed.
In 15 postseason games, Campbell has three goals and four helpers — not bad for a Merlot Liner. Two of those tallies were against the mighty Rangers in the Bruins’ decisive Game 5 win over their New York foes — not bad for anyone. But Campbell’s most important stat isn’t his own — it’s the team’s penalty killing percentage, specifically this series, where the B’s have kept the Pens scoreless in 12 power play attempts.
His work doesn’t go unnoticed — just ask arguably the team’s hottest players.
“He did a great job, and we really wanted to play for him,” Brad Marchand said. “He’s always battling. He’s always doing whatever he has to do, and he’s been huge for us this playoffs so far.”
“We’re talking about little things that go a long way,” Patrice Bergeron said. “That’s the way he is. He sacrifices the body always for the team, for the better of the team. We tried to rally behind that and do it for him, because he’s a big part of our team on and off the ice.”
Campbell isn’t the team’s best player, but he isn’t the only guy on the squad who would shatter a leg to keep the opposition off the scoreboard. But he did, and he’d do it again and again. He would not only do it again — he would successfully and painfully hobble around while some of the game’s best players in the world desperately try to get pucks by and through him — and he’d succeed again.
Losing Campbell leaves a huge hole in the B’s PK unit, and it shakes up the Merlots. But what it also does is remind this locker room what it takes to win a Stanley Cup and what it takes to be a successful Big, Bad Bruins team of yore.
This city and its inhabitants have rallied around the “Boston Strong” battle cry for months now, and Campbell, of London, Ontario, is as Boston Strong as they come.