Bru­ins’ vet­er­ans could be key in this Cup bid

The News-Times - - SPORTS -

BOS­TON — When the Bos­ton Bru­ins take the ice against the St. Louis Blues, they will do it with a core group of vet­er­ans who know what it’s like to hoist the Stan­ley Cup — and have it slip from their fin­gers.

Pa­trice Berg­eron can still re­mem­ber the in­stant eu­pho­ria and ac­com­pa­ny­ing ado­ra­tion from across New Eng­land that came af­ter the Bru­ins out­lasted the Van­cou­ver Canucks in seven games to win the Cup in 2011.

He just as eas­ily re­calls the empti­ness in 2013 when the Bru­ins lost the fi­nal in six games to the Chicago Black­hawks.

“I think it makes you ap­pre­ci­ate and makes you un­der­stand how hard it is to get to this point,” Berg­eron said.

He is one of five cur­rent Bru­ins that were on both of those teams, along with Brad Marc­hand, Tuukka Rask, David Kre­jci and Zdeno Chara. Apart from Chara, who was 33 in 2011, Berg­eron, Kre­jci, Marc­hand and Rask were all in their

20s dur­ing both runs. De­fense­man Torey Krug was as a mem­ber of the ’13 team that came up short, ar­riv­ing the sea­son af­ter Bos­ton won it in 2011.

Nine years later Chara is now 42 and the 20-some­things are griz­zled NHL vet­er­ans as they pre­pare to take on the Blues.

It’s cast them all in the lead­er­ship role for an­other youth­ful and hun­gry Bru­ins team, built with many play­ers about to ex­pe­ri­ence this stage for the first time with Game 1 com­ing up Mon­day night.

It’s a po­si­tion they have all will­ingly ac­cepted.

Chara said this sea­son has been a great teach­ing tool for them.

“It takes a lot to just get into the play­offs,” Chara said. “We saw a lot of our games went to Game 7. First round. Sec­ond round. You have to re­al­ize how spe­cial it is to be in the fi­nal and what it takes. At the same time, you haven’t ac­com­plished any­thing. You haven’t won any­thing.”

St. Louis coach Craig Berube knows the Bru­ins are deep and the vet­eran play­ers are a key part of the team.

“Chara is still a good player, he’s a force out there, a big guy and he’s dif­fi­cult to play against,” Berube said. “Over­all, their team’s a skilled and fast team and their goalie has played ex­tremely well so far in the play­offs.”

Bos­ton coach Bruce Cas­sidy is in his sec­ond sea­son lead­ing the B’s. He strug­gled in his first go-around as a head coach in Wash­ing­ton, go­ing 47-47-9 over two sea­sons from 2002 to ’04.

The past two sea­sons in Bos­ton, Cas­sidy said, he has gone from be­ing ap­pre­hen­sive about speak­ing up around his best play­ers to set­ting an agenda and then lean­ing on his vet­er­ans in the locker room to help im­ple­ment it.

“I think this lead­er­ship group is sec­ond to none,” Cas­sidy said. “I don’t know if I’ll ever have — wher­ever this ca­reer takes me — a group like this to work with. I said that since prob­a­bly the sec­ond week of our job here. Th­ese guys are fan­tas­tic, and they sure make a coach’s job a lot eas­ier.”

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