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Skating And Smarts Keep Campbell Out Of The Box

Monday, 04.23.2012 / 7:21 PM ET / News
By Alain Poupart  - NHL.com Correspondent
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Skating And Smarts Keep Campbell Out Of The Box
It\'s been nearly 60 years since a defenseman won the Lady Byng, but Brian Campbell, who had six penalty minutes while leading the League in ice time, could change that
CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. -- Brian Campbell struggled Monday when he asked to recall the last time he was called for a penalty.

"Not a hundred percent," he said. "I just know I took one dumb penalty. That's the one I remember mostly, shooting the puck over the glass. That was the dumb one."

Campbell can be forgiven for not remembering his last penalty, considering it's been so long. For the record, it was a slashing call in the second period of a 2-1 home loss against Washington on Feb. 17.

It was one of only three penalties Campbell took all season, along with a holding call against Toronto on Dec. 27 and that delay-of-game call, at Boston on Dec. 8.

Couple that with the fact Campbell got more ice time during the 2011-12 season than any other player in the NHL and finished tied for second in the League among defensemen with 53 points, and it's easy to see why the Panthers defenseman is one of three finalists for the Lady Byng Award.

"He had a fabulous year," Florida coach Kevin Dineen said. "How great to be recognized as one of the elite in the League at whatever category it is. I don't know if that's the last announcement we'll hear about Brian Campbell. He's just been a real go-to guy for us. He plays the game with skill and character and a heck of a lot of heart. That adds up to someone who's very worthy of the Lady Byng."

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By "last announcement," Dineen no doubt meant the Norris Trophy, awarded to the League's best defenseman. The finalists for that award will be announced on Thursday.

For the Lady Byng, Campbell is joined as a finalist by New York Islanders left wing Matt Moulson and Edmonton Oilers right wing Jordan Eberle.

If he wins, Campbell would become only the third defenseman to win the award, and the first since Red Kelly, following the 1953-54 season.

Since the NHL started announcing three finalists for League awards in the early 1980s, only two defensemen have even been Lady Byng finalists. Detroit's Nicklas Lidstrom has been a finalist five times, including last year, and the Rangers' Brian Leetch was a finalist in 1992.

Should he win the award, Campbell would join Pavel Bure as the only NHL award recipients in Panthers history. Bure won the Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy as the League's top goal scorer in 2000 and 2001.

The Lady Byng Trophy is given each year "to the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability." The winner is selected by a vote of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association, and will be announced at the 2012 NHL Awards Show, June 20 at the Encore Theater at Wynn Las Vegas.

"It's obviously a great honor," Campbell said. "I don't think too many defensemen get awarded [the Lady Byng]. I don't know why. It's nice to change it up, I guess, and buck the trend a little bit."

This was the second consecutive season Campbell had only six penalty minutes, but he was limited to 65 games last season with the Chicago Blackhawks. In his first season with the Panthers, Campbell played in all 82 games, finishing with four goals and 49 assists.

Campbell averaged almost 27 minutes a game, seeing action on the power-play and penalty-killing units.

Dineen said Campbell's ability to avoid taking penalties is a result of his skating ability and hockey acumen.

Brian Campbell
Brian Campbell
Defense - FLA
GOALS: 1 | ASST: 4 | PTS: 5
SOG: 9 | +/-: -2
"He never really gets caught out of position where he has to take those kind of fouls and infractions," Dineen said. "He's been a real low-maintenance player from the coaching side of it, and it's great to see the League recognize him as one of the top-tier players and class players of, literally, this generation."

For his part, Campbell says he takes pride in playing a clean game.

"You look at some of the stuff that's been going on in the playoffs right now, the game can be played hard and played the right way," Campbell said. "Instead of seeing guys getting hurt, it's good to see guys playing hard, and I think it's starting to clear up a little bit in the playoffs as well."

Right wing Kris Versteeg played with Campbell in Chicago for two seasons (2008-09 and 2009-10) when Campbell had a combined 40 penalty minutes in 150 regular season games.

So Campbell's performance this season was nothing new for him.

"It's not a real shocker," Versteeg said. "I've known Brian for a few years now. It's pretty hard to believe how many penalties he had, but he plays close to 30 minutes a game and only having six to eight penalty minutes this season is pretty remarkable."

Author: Alain Poupart | NHL.com Correspondent

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - MTL 76 47 21 8 200 169 102
2 x - NYR 74 47 20 7 226 172 101
3 TBL 76 46 23 7 244 198 99
4 PIT 75 41 23 11 207 188 93
5 NYI 76 44 27 5 230 211 93
6 DET 74 40 22 12 216 201 92
7 WSH 75 40 25 10 218 186 90
8 BOS 75 37 25 13 199 195 87
9 OTT 74 37 25 12 216 199 86
10 FLA 75 34 26 15 186 205 83
11 PHI 76 30 29 17 198 219 77
12 CBJ 75 36 35 4 207 232 76
13 NJD 75 31 32 12 167 192 74
14 CAR 74 28 36 10 173 202 66
15 TOR 76 28 42 6 198 244 62
16 BUF 75 20 47 8 144 254 48

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Huberdeau 72 13 34 8 47
N. Bjugstad 72 24 19 -7 43
J. Jokinen 74 7 33 -1 40
J. Jagr 70 13 26 -3 39
B. Boyes 73 12 23 10 35
A. Ekblad 74 11 24 11 35
J. Hayes 65 18 13 -5 31
A. Barkov 64 14 17 -2 31
B. Campbell 75 3 21 2 24
B. Pirri 42 20 2 5 22
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 26 17 12 .921 2.33
A. Montoya 5 7 2 .888 3.08
 
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