BOSTON (CBS) — The captain, with his broken jaw, can hardly speak. Fortunately for the Bruins, the locker room is not short on leadership.
That veteran influence showed up Sunday night in St. Louis, both on the ice for Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final, and in the dressing room before the puck dropped. And it came from Patrice Bergeron.
Though Bergeron is still just 33 years old, he is one of the most experienced players in the entire NHL. And with both a Stanley Cup win and a Stanley Cup loss on his resume, Bergeron wanted to make sure that the latter would not be added to his or the team’s history on Sunday evening.
The exact content of that message will remain secret — for now — but relative youngsters Jake DeBrusk (22 years old) and Charlie McAvoy (21 years old) spoke after their 5-1 victory about the type of impact a message from Bergeron can have on a team.
McAvoy, who made his NHL debut in the postseason in the spring of 2017, was honest about feeling all over the map heading into Game 6. The words of Bergeron and the veterans helped center his focus.
“Man … I’m going through this and this is my first Stanley Cup, and it’s just a lot. I’m just gonna be honest with you. Like the emotions of all — like, I mean, crap. It’s a lot. Our backs are against the wall and you have so many mixed emotions. You do whatever it takes. This is your dream to win this thing and when your backs are against the wall and you know they’re one away, it hurts a little bit,” McAvoy said. “But I think I got a different perspective when our guys stepped up and just talked. It was an element of honesty to it about being in this position and knowing that if we just do our jobs, we’re a family. We believe in each other. And we all love each other. Just the thought of it being over tonight was terrifying. Like, you know, we’d come all this way. We come together when it matters, and I think tonight was a good example of that. We’re thankful. We’re blessed with a chance to play in Game 7 now. It’s going to be the same thing. I mean, it’s a lot. It’s a roller coaster and you’ve just got to ride it.”
As for Bergeron’s message specifically, McAvoy said it was “just what we needed.”
Brandon Carlo, who scored what stood as the game-winning goal, echoed that sentiment.
“True leadership,” Carlo told WBZ-TV’s Dan Roche. “It got us all together, talked to us a little bit. His experience in this league and what he’s done in the playoffs as well is very inspiring. But just his character off the ice and the way that he cares about his teammates, it was pretty special to hear from him.”
The Bruins will need one more win — and likely one more inspirational speech — in order for it all to matter. But given the emotional surge from Sunday’s 5-1 win, the Bruins are certainly the team riding the most momentum into the winner-takes-all Game 7.