A lot has been made of the experience many Boston Bruins have in the playoffs.
And the argument certainly can be made that it was that experience that helped the B’s stave off the Toronto Maple Leafs in a first-round series that went the distance.
Zdeno Chara has played in 13 Game 7’s, as many as any player in NHL history, while Patrice Bergeron is close behind with 11 appearances in do-or-die games — not to mention a number of current Bruins were on the 2011 Boston team that won the Stanley Cup. There are not many teams in the NHL that bring the kind of playoff experience the B’s possess.
But John Tortorella is not really buying it.
The Columbus Blue Jackets coach believes that playoff experience is a bit “overrated.”
“Yeah, I think it’s overrated,” Tortorella said in a conference call Wednesday, as transcribed by WEEI.com. “And I’m not saying that because I have an inexperienced team. I just … I wonder, and I’m not saying I’m right or wrong, but I wonder … innocence vs. experience. What is the pressure? How do people handle the pressure? Some of the things that go with young kids, and I’m watching it with a couple guys on our team, they’re just playing, they’re not worried about anything as far as pressure or the bright lights of media or surges in the game. They’re just playing the best way they can. So I’m not sure where you go with that, and I’ve always felt that way. …
“Listen, as I’ve said, I’m not speaking on Boston much … that’s a great organization, we have a tremendous amount of respect for them, we’re going to prepare the best way the Columbus Blue Jackets can prepare and we’re going to be ourselves to play this series.”
Let’s acknowledge the fact of the matter — Tortorella absolutely is right to say “playoff experience” is overrated. Sure, having veteran guys in the locker room who have played in big games helps, but it is far from the be-all, end-all in the playoffs. How’d the Bruins “playoff experience” pay off for them last year against the Tampa Bay Lightning?
And Tortorella’s “innocence vs. experience” argument is a compelling one. Heading into the second round, who would you say the pressure is one, the Bruins (the now favorites to win the Stanley Cup) or the Blue Jackets?
Columbus clearly was not overwhelmed in the slightest by playing one of the best hockey teams of the last decade in the first round, and dispatched Tampa in four games. So Bruins fans would be sorely misguided to believe Boston will cruise to the Eastern Conference Finals because they are more “experienced.”
Thumbnail photo via Jerome Miron/USA TODAY Sports Images