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Just a Bump in the Road

by Staff Writer / Boston Bruins – For just the second time in his NHL career, Boston Bruins rookie Steven Kampfer found himself in suit and tie as his teammates donned their Black & Gold sweaters come game time in Calgary. 

Last night, the 22-year-old Kampfer watched his team defeat the Flames 3-1 from the press box of the Scotiabank Saddledome as Boston’s defensive scratch. 

“I think there’s a young player here going through some growing pains just like every body else," Boston Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien said of his decision to scratch Kampfer.

"He’s struggled a little bit as of late with moving the puck and losing some battles and stuff like that. 

“Every once in a while guys go through those growing pains and you have to take a step back with them and let them, I guess, watch and work harder in practice to get better in those areas,” he said.

After being recalled from Providence (AHL) on Dec. 8, Kampfer has skated in 32 games for Boston with 4-5-9 totals and a plus-10 rating. 

Upon his arrival in Boston, the former University of Michigan standout has been a solid puck-moving defenseman.

Paired with Zdeno Chara for the majority of his shifts, Kampfer has helped the Bruins to clear their zone and create offensive opportunities. 

But Julien explained that it's a hard jump to the NHL from the slower-paced, shorter-seasoned NCAA.

“This is his first full [professional] season and at the same time, he’s a first year player,” Julien said. “He’s been thrown in a situation earlier on where we really expected to see a good puck-moving defenseman.

"He provided us with that and sometimes things eventually catch up with you a little bit and you hit that bump in the road.”

Kampfer’s only previous scratch came on Feb. 13 when the Bruins took on the Detroit Red Wings in the Ann Arbor-native’s home state of Michigan. 

Only 20 players can dress in any given NHL game and blueliner Johnny Boychuk was the Bruins defensive scratch in the previous outing (a 4-2 win over Ottawa on Friday), but Julien said he’s not rotating defenseman “just to rotate.”

“When you’ve got 22 players somebody is going to be sitting out and right now we’re going with some of the experienced players,” he said after the B’s practice at Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver today. 

“I thought Johhny [Boychuk] was going through the same thing, but last night I liked his game. 

“So, eventually those guys recapture their game through hard work and sometimes [with] the competition part of it, guys get better and that’s what we’re hoping is going to happen with Steven [Kampfer].”

For now, Julien is looking for Kampfer to overcome the hurdle of being a scratch and prove he can trade in his suit for a spoked-B sweater.

“Basically, right now, I think where he’s got an opportunity to get better is at that mental challenge, staying with it, working hard, making sure you don’t get discouraged,” Julien said.

“But at the same time you look at the situation by taking a positive approach and saying ‘I’m going to work my way through this and it will make me a better player.’”

---Hannah Becker
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