Gregory Campbell Ready to Be Thrown ‘Right Into the Fire’ of Bruins-Canadiens

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Gregory Campbell Ready to Be Thrown 'Right Into the Fire' of Bruins-Canadiens WILMINGTON, Mass. — Gregory Campbell isn't a complete stranger to postseason action.

His Plymouth team in the Ontario Hockey League made the playoffs in each of his first two junior seasons, and he won a Memorial Cup, Canadian junior hockey's national championship, after being traded to Kitchener in 2003.

But in his first seven seasons in professional hockey, Campbell never experienced a playoff run. He never even played a single playoff game.

Campbell was drafted by Florida in 2002, and the Panthers haven't made the playoffs since 2000. Even Florida's American Hockey League affiliate in San Antonio failed to reach the playoffs in Campbell's two seasons there in 2003-04 and 2004-05.

Coming to Boston last summer in a trade that also brought fellow playoff neophyte Nathan Horton changed all that. And after the Bruins wrapped up their final practice before opening a first-round series against Montreal on Thursday, Campbell reflected on just how different this spring is for him.

"Over the last couple of years [at this time] I've been on the cusp of having my year-end meetings and my year-end wrap-up party and going on with my summer, so it's been a little bit different feeling over the last couple days," Campbell said at Ristuccia Arena on Wednesday. "I've been looking forward to this for a long time and I'm just going to enjoy it."

Campbell won't exactly be eased into the playoff fray. His first taste of postseason action will come in arguably the NHL's most intense playoff rivalry, with the Bruins and Canadiens meeting for the 33rd time.

"It's not like I'm in Florida right now, gearing up for a first-round matchup against Atlanta or Carolina or some matchup on a smaller scale," Campbell said. "This is one of the biggest rivalries in sports and I'm being thrown right into the fire, right into the thick of things. And I think that's a cool way to start. I'm going to get a taste of it right off the bat and I'm excited."

Despite his lack of experience, Campbell is confident his style of game will translate well to the higher intensity of playoff action.

"I'm just letting it come, trying to roll with it," Campbell said. "I'm confident I can play at this level. I just think from anybody I've talked to, the level of play is higher, and as you go on further into the playoffs it just keeps getting higher and higher. I've been to a couple of games the last two years in each of the final rounds, and as a fan you're sitting back and watching hockey and it just seems so fast, as I'm sure it is.

"I can't believe that I play at this level," Campbell added. "But it's no different than when you start in preseason and the level is a little slower, and as you go on into the [regular] season the stakes get higher and the level of play gets higher. That's no different than [Thursday's Game 1]. I think you have to treat it as another hockey game. Obviously it's not, but I just have to raise my level a little bit." 

Bruins coach Claude Julien isn't worried about how players like Campbell and Horton will adjust to postseason competition for the first time.

"It's their first time in the playoffs in this league," Julien said. "I think they've been in playoffs before. Greg Campbell with Kitchener and those other guys with what they've been through. Nonetheless, I'm sure they've already asked some questions of some guys, but I don't think it's really that [much of an] unknown territory for them, more than they haven't had the privilege and the experience to go through yet in this league, and it's as simple as that."

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