BOSTON (CBS) – Future Hall of Famer Mark Recchi, in his role as the Bruins’ Yoda over the final three seasons of his storied NHL career, once criticized a scuffling Bruins team for having too many passengers.
If ever there was a time for the players who’ve been just along for the ride throughout the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs to put their foot on the gas, it’s Wednesday.
The result of Game 7 of the Eastern Conference second round against the Montreal Canadiens will be a determining factor in how this season gets classified in Bruins history. Will it be a season known for the Bruins’ regular season dominance and postseason flameout? Or will it be yet another season that adds to the impressive resume of general manager Peter Chiarelli, coach Claude Julien and others that have basically combined to produce a new golden era in Bruins’ lore?
It’s no coincidence that the answer to the above questions rests inside some of the players that Chiarelli and the Bruins’ brass have built this team around. Defenseman Zdeno Chara, centers Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci, and wingers Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand and Jarome Iginla all have to play better than they have during any stretch of the first six games of this series.
Chara was a ghost in Game 6 and has done little other than help shut down Montreal’s best scorers. Although that’s an admirable accomplishment, the Bruins need even more at both ends of the rink from their $7 million defenseman. Marchand and Krejci haven’t scored all playoffs. Lucic has one empty-net goal in this series. Even Bergeron has looked out of sorts, at least at the offensive end, as he’s gotten too cute around the net and is obviously a bit thrown off by Marchand’s struggles.
Bruins fourth-line center Gregory Campbell, who along with his linemates could play better than he has, has empathy for his higher-profile teammates who are struggling.
“I mean I think those guys have a tough job. They have to produce night in and night out,” Campbell said Tuesday on an off day for most of the Bruins’ game players. “But I think in the playoffs, you really can’t look at those guys to carry the load every night. It really takes four lines and six D every single night to win. And we’ve been through it. And that’s why I know that you really do have to rely on everybody.
“In Game 4 we saw Matt Fraser step up. And so that’s really been the key. It’s not the top two lines, it’s really all four lines that have to contribute.”
It might take four lines, but the players higher up on the depth chart have to lead the way. The Bruins are only this far because of timely contributions from the likes of Justin Florek, Daniel Paille and Fraser. The role players and team concept have carried the Bruins to this point. Now it’s time for a star or two to grab the controls and fly this plane over the finish line and into the Eastern Conference finals against the New York Rangers.
Passengers will get left behind at the gate.
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