Will hits keep on coming? Sabres' Campbell accepts contact as part of the game.

Posted: April 26, 2006

Buffalo defenseman Brian Campbell doesn't need advice on his visit to the Wachovia Center for the third and fourth games of the Sabres' first-round playoff series against the Flyers.

Campbell knows to wear earplugs and - oh, yes - to keep his head up at all times.

"As long as it's clean, hey, it's part of the game and I've got to take it and be ready for it," he said of the sport's body contact after the Sabres' dominating 8-2 win Monday night in Buffalo. The Sabres hold a two-games-to-none lead in the best-of-seven series, which resumes tonight at the Wachovia Center.

To the Flyers, Campbell is the culprit who put a devastating hit on R.J. Umberger in Saturday night's series opener, leaving the rookie with a concussion, a broken nose, and swelling under both eyes. Umberger didn't play in the second game after failing a league-mandated test. The hit has been replayed almost as frequently as episodes of Law & Order.

Although Campbell's hit was clean - it was reminiscent of Scott Stevens' crushing shoulder check that flattened Eric Lindros in Game 7 of the 2000 Eastern Conference finals - it didn't dissuade the Flyers from treating him as if he were a target at a skeet shoot on Monday night.

Toward the end of the first period, defenseman Derian Hatcher drew a minor penalty for elbowing Campbell. Late in the second period, rookie Ben Eager, playing his first postseason game for the Flyers, sent Campbell crashing into the boards with a hit from behind, drawing an interference penalty and a 10-minute misconduct. Campbell said he also was blindsided by Jeff Carter.

"I didn't see Eager coming at all," Campbell said. "I was just standing there. Lucky I didn't get hurt. I was fine, but I didn't see him coming. Carter's hit, I just got blindsided. You know, you wish it was clean, but it's because that was a frustrated hockey team.

"We're just looking toward Game 3. You've got to put that behind you now. I think if it's a one-goal game, it doesn't happen."

Campbell doesn't look the part of the bad guy the crowd will perceive him as being. Unlike the menacing Stevens, who was put together like an NFL linebacker and had an intimidating scowl, Campbell is slightly built and could pass as the class nerd. His listed size of 6 feet and 191 pounds seems an exaggeration.

Campbell has repeatedly expressed regret for injuring Umberger, and understands that retribution is part of the game, as long as it's within the rules.

"I didn't wish that on Umberger, and, you know, there's been stuff in the league where retaliation like that isn't viewed too well," the 26-year-old redhead said. "It's a pretty sour subject with the league. But I think it'll be like that in Game 3. They'll be ready to go after us. It'll be a tough battle."

Contact staff writer Ray Parrillo

at 215-854-2743 or rparrillo@phillynews.com.

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