BOSTON — Zdeno Chara is one of the best leaders in the NHL, so it’s no surprise that the Boston Bruins captain spoke up during the second intermission of Wednesday night’s Game 7 against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The B’s trailed 4-3 going into the third period, and with the possibility of their season ending over the next 20 minutes of play, Boston’s veterans owned the locker room.
“A few things being said. A few guys stepped up,” Chara said. “We went into the third with a different mindset, a different focus. We were more consistent. We were driven. That was very important for us to go into the third with a different mindset.”
Chara admitted that he spoke to the team, but would not share exactly what the message was.
Whatever he did say, it certainly put a jolt of energy into his teammates.
The Bruins scored four unanswered goals in the third period and put the clamps down defensively on the Leafs to win 7-4 and earn a second-round Stanley Cup playoff matchup with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Bruins have a lot of young players, including several rookies playing in their first postseason. They also are lucky enough to have a core group of veterans who’ve played in a lot of Game 7s and have won the Stanley Cup.
Those guys led the charge going into the biggest period of the season.
“Yeah, I think we were pretty calm,” Bruins forward Danton Heinen said. “The leadership group – (Chara), (Patrice Bergeron), (David Backes) – these guys stepped up and kept us calm and said the right things, so credit to those guys.”
Heinen wasn’t the only rookie who benefitted from the leaders’ words.
“I think we had our leaders talk in the room here. I think they talked about past experiences and how we don’t want to break up this group, we have a special group in here,” Bruins rookie Jake DeBrusk, who scored twice on the night, said.
“And I honestly believe that, just have no doubt and play like our lives depend on it and obviously you do in a Game 7, but when you’re down going into the third period against a team like that it’s tough to overcome, but character showed through.”
The value of experience is hard to quantify, but in the playoffs it’s very important. The Bruins helped prove that with their finish to Game 7.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports