April 14, 2011

Playoff newcomer Campbell ready to get rolling

by Jesse Connolly

Bruins center Gregory Campbell hasn't reached the playoffs since 2003 during his days with the OHL's Kitchener Rangers. (Getty)

BOSTON -- More than seven years have passed since Greg Campbell broke into the NHL with the Florida Panthers. The gritty center has grinded it out through 443 regular season games since then, all with the goal of reaching a moment he's now just hours away from.

For the first time in his career, the 27-year-old center will take to the ice for a postseason tilt. Expecting him to be anything but amped up beyond measure would be awfully foolish.

"I'm not gonna lie," Campbell said. "I'm excited. It's been a while."

But have no fear of him getting a little too caught up in the moment, however, as Campbell plans on staying cool and keeping focused.

"I think my approach and our approach has to be to just relax and prepare for the game," he said.

While playing in the Sunshine State did have its perks, being mired in mediocrity for more than half a decade took its toll.

Campbell, always renown for being a hard worker, tried like hell to help push Florida into the playoffs during his days with the Panthers. While coming oh-so-close on a few occasions was certainly an admirable feat, missing out on the postseason every year has made him really appreciate his first season with the Bruins.

"This is what you play for," said Campbell. "It doesn't happen all the time, with this rivalry and seasons like this. You can sense the enthusiasm in the locker room."

While many a media outlet has wondered if the incident involving Zdeno Chara and Max Pacioretty will have any bearing on the upcoming series against the Canadiens, Campbell doesn't foresee it keeping either team distracted from focusing on moving on to the second round.

"There's no secret what these two teams have been through, especially this year," he said. "The games leading up to this series have provided some storylines. It's about winning, though. That's all. That's the focus."

While Campbell played no part in the Bruins recent shortcomings in the postseason, the center was still asked if last year's collapse against the Flyers had been discussed internally.

"That was dealt with in the past," he said. "There's been no talk of that. It's a new series and a new year. We worked hard all year to have another chance."

When it comes to having a chance in the postseason, the Bruins have plenty of players throughout their locker room that know exactly what it takes to win.

"Obviously experience is key," Campbell said. "We have guys in this room that have won and have played long into the playoffs. I think any time you've been there before and gotten through situations, it's going to help you as a team."

While the art of thriving in the war that is the postseason is still something he must learn, both Campbell and the Bruins hope playoff newcomers can play just as big of a role in making 2011 a spring to remember in the Hub of Hockey.