The Boston Bruins have heavily relied on the productivity of their youth this season, and that now will be put to the test as they prepare for Game 1 of their first-round playoff matchup with the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday.
Remaining players from the 2011 Cup-winning team are few nowadays, but the ones that remain were an important part of that team’s fabric.
As such, they have plenty of lessons to hand down to players who, in some instances, are as many as two decades younger.
For rookie defenseman Matt Grzelcyk, the lessons from the veterans have ramped up heavily in recent days.
“I think they’ve kind of been a lot more vocal recently, in the last couple days, just making sure that they use their experience as much as they can, just trying to help us out,” Grzelcyk said, via Bruins.com. “It’s obviously greatly appreciated. Anything they say we’re going to take very seriously, they’ve had those experiences and they’ve won the ultimate prize. It’s great to have them around, I’ve been really fortunate.”
While some players had the opportunity to get some professional playoff experience down in Providence with the P-Bruins last season, the Stanley Cup playoffs obviously are on a much bigger scale, especially when it is a contest between a pair of Original Six teams.
Because of that, second-line center David Krejci has harped on staying composed and not letting the moment get too big.
“Playoffs, it’s a different league. You have to keep your emotions in check,” said Krejci. “Everybody is going to be excited, the building is going to be going crazy. Just be excited, but have your mind in the game and focused on the next shift.”
Few on the Bruins are more seasoned and respected than Patrice Bergeron. The top-line center was an integral part of the 2011 team and truly gutted through the 2013 run. His message to the younger players: be mindful of your approach.
“I think it’s the approach that you have towards it,” Bergeron said. “You have to embrace the challenge, you have to be ready for it. You have to expect a different style of hockey. When you’re ready for that, it doesn’t really matter as long as you bring it every night. We’re there to help them and bring them along. It’s up to everyone to do their part.”
The Bruins have a tough series ahead of them, but with the good blend of young and old, and the established core of veteran leaders, they will be prepared as well as anyone for the task.
Thumbnail photo via Jean-Yves Ahern/USA TODAY Sports Images
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