CHICAGO -- Psssst. Gonna let you in on a secret. The Chicago Blackhawks made quite a deal after the NHL trade deadline that helped them reach the Stanley Cup Final.
And it was all legal. But painful for Brian Campbell.
KO'ed for the final 14 games of the regular season by a broken collarbone after a hit from Alex Ovechkin, Campbell was forced to watch the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, too. In his absence, the Blackhawks used Dustin Byfuglien on defense.
"I didn't think I would be back from what all the doctors reports," Campbell said. "For the first two or three weeks it was just a lot of rest and then I could start rehabbing. Then you could see the light at the end of the tunnel."
And the light grew brighter during the Blackhawks' opening-round series against the Nashville Predators.
"We were down 2-1 in Nashville and felt I could help out," Campbell said. "It had been five-and-a-half weeks and I wasn't really ready. I was worried about having to take a hit. But it eased some of the pressure on some guys. I was just trying to help out."
Campbell has 3 assists in 14 games, so you might ask how much of an impact he has had since he is a point-producer. Ah, but here is the beauty of his return from a Blackhawks' perspective. Campbell's return allowed Joel Quenneville to move Byfuglien onto a line with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane that has been a big catalyst for the Hawks' postseason success.
"It's like getting two players back," Campbell said. "We got to see him (Byfuglien) move back up front and now you can see how versatile he is."
And has time has progressed, Campbell has become more and more comfortable and in synch with the game.
"By the Vancouver series I started to feel comfortable," Campbell said. "I didn't notice it anymore. Now, I don't do anything special with it anymore."
"His addition to the rush and his pace to the game and joining the offensive zone really gives our team some speed and more puck possession," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville told Tim Sassone of the Arlington Heights Daily Herald. "We really noticed his addition when we got him in Game 4 in Nashville. It turned the series around for us with his energy and pace. It was a big boost for our team, and the timing of when we got him back couldn't have been better."
And now, Campbell is experiencing what has become a very special time in Chicago.
"It isn't taken for granted, that's for sure this year," Campbell told reporters. "In years past, we've just got too excited at times. Teams may have celebrated too much for things they did not accomplish.
"This year it's great to see the attitude [change]. I know for myself it has changed a lot. I need to get over that hurdle. It's been pretty frustrating. This is the closest I've ever been now."
"Do the fans deserve a Cup?" Campbell asked. "Yeah. But we have a lot of work to do before then."
That toddlin' town -- As Brian Campbell mentioned, Chicago is crazy about their Blackhawks, a development that has even startled Blackhawks chairman Rocky Wirtz.
"I'm really shocked at the media attention," Wirtz said. "I've been here all my life. I thought the '85 Bears were unbelievable, and I think this is bigger than the '85 Bears in terms of attention. And that, to me, is mind-boggling."
Well Said I -- "Shootout at the OK Corral. I don't think anybody envisioned 5-5 heading into the third period." -- Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville summing up Game 1's 6-5 Chicago win.
Well Said I-A -- "Our assessment was we were a little bit too loose in front of our net." -- Flyers coach Peter Laviolette
Calm in the crisis -- You might think the Flyers would be running around willy-nilly regarding their goaltending after Michael Leighton was pulled from the net in Game 1's 6-5 loss.
But teams in these situations seem to have an uncanny ability to remain calm, make almost instant analysis and get back on track.
"It's tough, but we know all around defensively we didn't have a good game. In order to beat this team we've got to be better defensively, and I've got to be better. I've got to make some saves at key times, and it just didn't go our way." -- Michael Leighton"It's tough, but we know all around defensively we didn't have a good game," Leighton said. "In order to beat this team we've got to be better defensively, and I've got to be better. I've got to make some saves at key times, and it just didn't go our way."
Leighton doesn't sound panicked, does he?
"You know, sometimes you just feel bad," Simon Gagne said. "It's not Michael's fault. It's maybe our fault. We kind of left him by himself a couple times on a lot of those goals, so you feel bad for him and we're going to try to go back in and win the game for him."
"A lot of those goals weren't his fault," teammate Scott Hartnell agreed. "They were going right under the bar. One-timers from the slot. We've got to do a better job getting pucks on sticks and not making our goalies try to make the unbelievable saves all the time."
"It's like every shot they scored on. I don't think any of them were awful goals or embarrassing goals," Leighton said. "It's just one of those things.
"Maybe Peter thought it would shake the team up or 'Boosh' (Brian Boucher) would go in and do a better job. We seemed to respond a little bit better and play better."