On October 17th, just days into the season, Brian Campbell gave us a glimpse of his value registering 4 assists against the Tampa bay Lightning in a 7-4 victory. Many look at Campbell and the first thing they notice is his contract of $7+ million per year, which many believe is an over payment. However, Campbell has the ability to control play with his breakout passes and swift skating ability and he didn’t hesitate to demonstrate it. Assisting on each of Florida’s first three goals, all of which on the powerplay, Campbell showed his ability to move the puck and create chances in the offensive zone, something Florida hasn’t had in quite awhile if ever.
Campbell would later assist on the final goal of the game setting up Jason Garrison for his second goal in the still early season. The reason I added this performance to the list is because it was the first of several 4-point nights on the season for Campbell, but it really set the tone for things to begin the year. It showed Florida’s powerplay was no longer a joke around the league, which finished 7th. It was also the start of an offensive explosion which saw Florida take off on one of it’s best starts in a decade. Campbell along with Florida’s top line of Stephen Weiss, Kris Versteeg and Tomas Fleischmann would be in the top 30 in the league for points scored in the first two months of the season, and I believe this game and offensive output gave them the confidence needed to do so.
In this series of articles I may not dive deeply into how the specific game played out, but the reasoning for why I selected it. An effort may not have been because of how many goals or assists an individual recorded, but because of the impact they had on the team either in the game, or in the games to follow. Momentum shifts and confidence boosts are a big part of the game, and sometimes an unsung hero can emerge and really bring life into the team. Come back tomorrow for Number 4 on my list of individual efforts by the Florida Panthers in the 2011-2012 season.