Steven Kampfer

Stanley Cup Final: Chara’s status for Game 5 unclear; Grzelcyk skates

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(UPDATE: Chara will play in Game 5.)

BOSTON — Zdeno Chara’s status for Thursday’s Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final remains unclear.

The Boston Bruins defenseman wasn’t at TD Garden for Wednesday’s practice two days after taking a puck to the mouth in their Game 4 defeat. While reports state he has a broken jaw, there won’t be any update until at least Thursday. One encouraging sign was the sight of Matt Grzelcyk on the ice, though he skated in a non-contact jersey. 

Grzelcyk, who’s been out since a Game 2 hit that put him in concussion protocol and and saw St. Louis Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist suspended one game, said he was feeling better, but still needed to be cleared in order to make a return to the Bruins’ lineup.

“I think the toughest thing Is just not being out there with the team,” Grzelcyk said. “Having to sit and watch is tough. I’m just happy to be back around the guys, feeling a lot more like myself.”

With the absences of Chara and Grzelcyk, Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy tweaked his defense pairings on Wednesday. John Moore, who’s been a healthy scratch for most of the playoffs, including Games 1 and 2 of the Cup Final, was playing on the top pairing with Charlie McAvoy. Steven Kampfer was out there with Connor Clifton. Grzelcyk skated with Urho Vaakanainen, who will likely not see any action if Cassidy decides to go with 11 forwards and seven defensemen.

[NBC 2019 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

As the Bruins await status updates on Chara and Grzelcyk, it’ll once again be that next man up mentality.

“It kind of helped knowing we had a couple of days here to get ready for it,” said Kampfer. “Nobody really knows who’s in, who’s out [Thursday]. You’re mentally ready for any situation to happen. I’ve had it before guys have gotten sick in the afternoon and you’re jumping in and playing a game that you didn’t think you were playing in at 3:30 p.m. It’s just making sure you’re mentally with it all the time.”

The Bruins are used to missing pieces from their lineup this postseason, so having been through that experience numerous times will help with the potential loss of Chara.

“I think our guys are good that way knowing that the team will pull together,” said Cassidy. “It’s just tough when you lose your captain. He is your captain and he plays some valuable minutes in this particular series. Against a heavier team, that’s where you miss the actual what he brings to the table.

“But in terms of the mentality, I think this team will be OK. And we don’t know Zee if he misses one game, if he wouldn’t be available for the next one if that’s the case, either. We don’t really know right now. There’s a little bit of that hope factor for us as well.”

Game 5 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final airs on NBC at 8 p.m. ET on Thursday (stream here).

MORE: Looking at Bruins’ potential defensive options for Game 5

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Penalties crush Hurricanes as Bruins storm back in Game 1

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The Carolina Hurricanes had their moments in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final, but penalties ended up being their Achilles’ heel in a 5-2 loss to the Boston Bruins.

The Bruins got on the board quickly thanks to Steven Kampfer, who was only in the game in the first place because Charlie McAvoy was serving a suspension. That lead was erased quickly though when Andrei Svechnikov‘s shot was deflected by Sebastian Aho just three seconds into a Hurricanes power play. Just like that, the score was 1-1 a mere 3:42 minutes into the contest.

Things calmed down after that until Greg McKegg charged hard into the net midway through the second period. Replays showed that he scored before colliding with Boston goaltender Tuukka Rask and the Bruins ultimately didn’t challenge the call, giving the Hurricanes a 2-1 lead.

Carolina’s edge wouldn’t hold though and it was largely due to a lack of discipline. Micheal Ferland was charged with interface late in the third and while the Hurricanes killed off that penalty, they weren’t so fortunate in the third. First Jordan Staal boarded Chris Wagner just 49 seconds into the frame. There might have been coincidental minors there as rookie defenseman Connor Clifton took exception to what Staal did, but Brad Marchand pulled Clifton back before the situation escalated.

That certainly isn’t a role Marchand is known for, but that wasn’t his only contribution in the period. He helped set up Marcus Johansson‘s game-tying goal on the ensuing power-play. When Dougie Hamilton took a roughing penalty at 2:41 of the third to put the Hurricanes in the box yet again, Marchand got another power-play assist, this time feeding the puck to Patrice Bergeron.

That said, the player who deserves the most credit on the Bergeron goal is arguably Jake DeBrusk, who collected the puck on his knees and got up while making the pass to Marchand to get that sequence going.

Hamilton took yet another penalty at 5:29 of the third, just to make life a little harder for the Hurricanes, but at least Carolina killed off that one. From there, the Hurricanes could not battle back. Brandon Carlo got an empty netter at 17:47 and Chris Wagner got one by Hurricanes goaltender Petr Mrazek at 17:58.

Carolina can look back at this game as a missed opportunity to take one early in Boston. The silver lining for the Hurricanes is that this series has only begun.

Hurricanes-Bruins Game 2 from TD Garden will be Sunday afternoon at 3:00 p.m. ET on NBC

Ryan Dadoun is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @RyanDadoun.

Panthers sign Kampfer to a two-year contract extension

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The Florida Panthers signed defenseman Steven Kampfer to a two-year extension the club announced on Saturday.

The 26-year-old was on a one-year, $550,000 deal and set to become a restricted free agent after this season.

Florida acquired Kampfer along with Andrew Yogan from the New York Rangers for Joey Crabb in October.

“Since we acquired Steven in October, he has been a welcome addition to our organization,” said Panthers’ GM Dale Tallon. “He has worked extremely hard since his recall and has fit very well into our line-up, contributing both offensively and defensively.

“Steven is most deserving of this contract extension and we look forward to his continued contributions to our club.”

Kampfer has a goal and three helpers to go along with a minus-3 rating while averaging 17:58 in ice time in 18 games with the Panthers this season.

He has also appeared in 42 AHL games with the San Antonio Rampage registering eight goals and 19 points.

Pressure on Bruins increases after Panthers win six-round SO over Habs

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The Florida Panthers met the Montreal Canadiens for the second time this season and once again 65 minutes of hockey wasn’t enough to settle their differences. This time around though, it was Florida that came out on top in a 3-2 shootout victory.

Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo deserves a lot of credit for this outcome as Montreal managed to out shoot the Panthers 39-21 prior to the skills competition. Despite that, Brendan Gallagher was the only member of the Canadiens that solved Luongo in regulation time tonight, although for a time it looked like that might be enough as he gave Montreal a 2-0 lead.

Florida clawed its way back into this one with 26-year-old defenseman Steven Kampfer eventually tying the contest with his first goal of the season:

Dave Bolland accounted for the deciding goal in the shootout.

Florida’s comeback is bad news for the Boston Bruins as it magnifies their recent struggles. After losing five straight games, Boston’s edge over Florida in the battle for the second Wild Card spot has been reduced to a single point. The fight between those two squads might come down to the wire and if that’s the case then they’ll have plenty of opportunities to directly gain an edge as the Bruins and Panthers are scheduled to meet on March 21, March 31, and April 9.

Related:

Marincin scores the winner as the Oilers edge the Bruins in a 12-round shootout

Boston will be without Steven Kampfer for about two weeks

The most obvious injury problem for the Boston Bruins is that of Marc Savard, but let’s face it, the question isn’t about whether he’ll return during the playoffs (he won’t) but rather if he will ever play another NHL game.

Beyond the obvious case of Savard, the Bruins are a fairly healthy bunch compared to some of the other 15 teams entering the playoffs. That doesn’t mean that they are totally without wounded players, though, as Joe Haggerty reports that depth defenseman Steven Kampfer is expected to miss “a couple weeks” with a knee injury.

Kampfer is a 22-year-old defenseman who put together a solid abbreviated 2010-11 season, scoring five goals and five assists for 10 points and a +9 rating in 38 games. Haggerty reports that Kampfer wasn’t expected to be in the Bruins’ starting lineup, indicating that he was probably the team’s seventh defenseman. Shane Hnidy will most likely step into that (inactive) role now.

It’s not a huge blow, but the Bruins’ defense already drops off noticeably after its top two, so losing a depth blueliner is less than ideal. The Bruins claim that the injury isn’t severe, but he will miss at least two weeks.