Steven Kampfer has been a sparkplug who can handle moving the puck up ice and jumping into the offensive zone when needed for a B's team that struggles at times to find the back of the net.
With defenseman Andrew Ference slated to return Tuesday night in Carolina, the B's have a tough decision to make, as the numbers simply don't add up: seven healthy defenders, six available slots.
"It's not an easy decision, but it's a good situation to be in," head coach Claude Julien told reporters after Monday's 7-0 win. "You've created some competition now and everybody wants to be in the lineup. The only guy who is going to have a tough decision to make, the way guys are playing, is me."
While McQuaid's physicality (and plus-14 rating) has been a key factor in the B's recent success, Kampfer's ability to move the puck up ice and create offense ultimately means more to this team, which has yet to find a rhythm on offense. This may appear to be a bold statement when speaking about a team that has popped 26 goals in the last five games, but the truth is the B's have had trouble putting together the right lines and effective power-play units.
What's wrong with a little more offense? When the B's welcomed back Mark Stuart on Monday, they welcomed "Caveman strength" (thanks, Jack Edwards) back to the blue line. While this, by no means, makes McQuaid expendable and/or useless to the B's defensive unit, it does mean that the B's have an experienced big man back to take over as a punishing defender in their own zone.
Kampfer has been matching up well when playing with Zdeno Chara, but Ference will likely take back his slot alongside the B's captain. Although McQuaid played sturdily alongside Stuart on Monday, Kampfer seems to match up better with the bruising, stay-at-home Stuart.
An unlikely scenario would be to alternate the defenders from the active lineup to healthy scratch depending on the matchup. Sticking with this idea ultimately means sitting a young player for half a season, but a lot can be learned from simply being around the team, practicing and playing every other game. When facing a big, tough, offensive team that requires the B's to bulk up on defense, they can toss McQuaid in. When the B's need speed and offense, pencil Kampfer in. While it may sound crazy and borderline stupid, it might make sense, especially if McQuaid continues to drop the mitts on what seems to be a nightly basis.
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