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BOSTON (CBS) – Maybe we were so distracted by the highly entertaining guessing game over whether Carl Soderberg or Kaspars Daugavins would be the Bruins’ 12th forward for Game 5 of the Stanley Cup finals, we forgot that Nathan Horton and David Krejci were goal-less so far in the series with the Chicago Blackhawks.
It would’ve been easy given the importance of Patrice Bergeron to focus so much on his injury and his day-to-day status to miss the fact that by failing to record a point in the Bruins’ 3-1 loss in Game 5 Saturday, Brad Marchand has yet to hit the score sheet in any manner through the course of the series the Bruins trail 3-2 heading into Monday night’s Game 6.
But the struggles of the Bruins’ biggest stars have to be front and center when the Bruins and Blackhawks take the ice with the Stanley Cup waiting at TD Garden to either dance with Chicago or hop a plane to Chicago.
Regardless of whether Bergeron plays or who’s on the Bruins’ fourth line, the stars have to carry the day. Horton was denied a chance to come through in the 2011 Cup finals because of injury after he was so clutch in the earlier rounds. Now he has to make his mark on the Blackhawks.
“Well, like I said, I’m fine,” Horton said Sunday, harkening back to the injury that knocked him from Game 1 but couldn’t keep him from the next four games. “You know, I just haven’t had the opportunities. You know there’s not a lot of room, like I said, but we’ve got to make our own room and that’s how it’s got to be I guess.”
Marchand was so key against the Canucks, with three goals in the final two games, including the goal that started the Game 6 rout early on in the eventual Cup champions’ last home game. He only landed one shot against Chicago in Game 5. That’s just unacceptable. All the key goals he scored against the New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins will be forgotten if he doesn’t turn things around against the Blackhawks soon.
“I mean, pucks aren’t finding their way into the net and I’m not making many plays. So I just have to be better,” he said.
When the season comes down to just two teams, we tend to focus on minutia. Every lineup change and roster move gets dissected three times over. We marvel at the clutch performances that often come from role players like Boston’s Daniel Paille and Andrew Shaw. When it comes to surviving a Game 6 and maybe winning a Game 7, though, it has to be about the stars.
Bruins coach Claude Julien talked earlier in this series about not wanting any passengers in his lineup. It’s time for a talent like Horton or Marchand to grab the steering wheel and drive the Bruins to a win that’ll lead them back to the Windy City.
Matt Kalman covers the Bruins for CBSBoston.com and also contributes coverage to NHL.com and several other media outlets. Follow him on Twitter @TheBruinsBlog.