Wednesday, March 16, 2011Posted: 4:58 p.m.
By Tracey Myers
Chris Campoli is a pretty happy man right now.
The newest Chicago Blackhawks defenseman is liking his new surroundings or at least what little hes seen of his new city and is especially loving being part of a puck-possession team that fits his style.
If he could just get that elusive goal.
I could probably have three or four goals already but I cant finish it off, joked Campoli, who clanged one off the crossbar but soon after got an assist on Viktor Stalbergs goal against San Jose on Monday. But guys find you.
And right now, Campoli is finding himself in a great spot. Traded from a struggling Ottawa Senators team at the deadline, the 26-year-old Campoli is part of a contender and fitting in with his teammates and his on-ice role.
This system suits my style of game more, for sure, he said. In Ottawa they tell you to go, but its tough to go sometimes when youre chasing the puck. This teams a puck-possession team and we want to play with the puck. The guys Im playing with on defense fit more of my mold than maybe some of the guys up in Ottawa.
Defenseman Duncan Keith said Campolis fit in well in his first seven games.
Hes come in and his skill level, smarts and reading of plays compliments our team game, he said. Hes enjoying being here and being on a team that likes to hold onto the puck and make plays.
Campoli played his first few games with Brian Campbell. The two have similar games and complimented each other well. But even in the absence of Campbell, whos currently sidelined with a leg injury, Campoli has improvised and found his niche regardless of partner. He played nearly 22 minutes against San Jose on Monday night, and that included some power play and penalty kill time.
He really gives us a defenseman that can play minutes, can play both sides, can add some offense to our defense core and is reliable defensively, coach Joel Quenneville said. He reads and sees situations, defends well and wants to go get pucks in corners. I
just think as he becomes more accustomed to his surroundings hes going to add that to his game. Were very happy with what he has done and what he can do.
Campoli is also appreciating a more positive environment. Times were tough in Ottawa, where the veteran-heavy Senators were expected to be contenders in the Eastern Conference. They struggled from the start, however, and went through the obvious changes at deadline.
I just think it became a really negative environment, he said. Anytime a veteran group doesnt do well there are going to be changes. Maybe uncertainty made it such a negative atmosphere and just the struggles in general of not winning. I guess Im fortunate to move onto a great situation for me. What better chance? This teams got a great chance to win.
Keith, who was with the Blackhawks before recent success, understands that.
Ive been on teams with losing seasons and its a long year, he said. Getting traded to a team thats in the thick of things can make you definitely feel better about coming to the rink every day.
Campolis enjoying hockey life a lot more right now. Hes in a good situation, getting a great opportunity. Hes latched on to a Blackhawks team in the thick of the playoff hunt and its made for a better outlook.
Theres optimism here. Its contagious, it really is, he said. Im being given more of a chance here so far than I ever was in Ottawa. Joel showing confidence in me is helping me go out there and just play my game. When youre playing on such a good team with guys like this, they make you look a lot better.
Brian Campbell (left leg) will miss the Blackhawks game in Dallas on Thursday but he could meet the team in Glendale for their game against the Coyotes on Sunday. Campbell, who did not practice on Wednesday, suffered his injury against the Florida Panthers last week. He played in the first half of the Blackhawks 4-3 overtime loss to Washington, sitting on the bench for the remainder of the game.
Dave Bolland, meanwhile, is out for the next two games and wont even make the trip to DallasPhoenix. Still sidelined with a concussion, Bollands status hasnt really improved much, if at all, since Tampa Bay defenseman Pavel Kubina elbowed him in the head last week.
You want Bolly to take his time and make sure hes 100 percent when he does come back, captain Jonathan Toews said. Who knows when that will be? I have no idea what the timeline is for him, but theres no denying hes a big piece of the puzzle here on our squad, especially as a centerman and what he does on the power play and penalty kill.
Patrick Sharp took a Duncan Keith shot to the ankle during Wednesdays practice. The forward shook it off and told reporters that Keiths shot wasnt that hard.
Keith said thats good. I think I took a little off for him because I saw him there. I just wanted to give him a little taste of it to let him know not to be in the way like that.
Corey Crawford gets the start against the Stars on Thursday night.
Defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson didnt practice on Wednesday but hes expected to play in Dallas.
Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.