Bruins’ Patrice Bergeron Doesn’t Understate Stanley Cup Playoff Intensity

'It's basically night and day'


May 2, 2022

NHL players spend five months crashing into each other on skates, chasing around a piece of frozen rubber while wielding graphite lances also known as hockey sticks. And it’s all done for a chance to do it at far more dangerous and far more intense level during springtime.

That’s because as the world comes back to life after a long winter, hockey players throw caution to the wind once the puck drops and the Stanley Cup playoffs begin. For the Boston Bruins, the quest to chase the Cup begins Monday night in Raleigh, N.C., where they’ll do battle with the Carolina Hurricanes.

Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron, who has played two regular seasons’ worth of playoff hockey, is quite familiar with the den he’s about to enter. Bergeron has been to the mountaintop in 2011 and then famously played through injuries that would leave us “normal folk” crying on the way to the hospital. And that year, of course, led to a heartbreaking loss in the Stanley Cup Final.

There’s no one in the field this year better suited to handle or explain the physical and mental anguish that comes from chasing Lord Stanley across North America, and Bergeron’s simple explanation should get fans all sorts of amped for the next two months.

“It’s basically night and day (compared to the regular season), to be honest with you,” he explained Sunday in a pre-series press conference. “The intensity increases right away from the first game of Round 1 all the way through. I guess it keeps getting more intense as we go along, but every puck matters and every battle matters. You can feel it, you can sense it from the drop of the puck on.

“Those are all things you talk about with the guys, but I think it’s also just letting everyone just play the game and not put extra pressure on your shoulders. It remains hockey, but it’s always a battle of will, and you make sure guys are aware of that.”

Those Jedi mind tricks are learned over the year, of course, but it certainly helps to have a mentor like Bergeron leading the way. It’s been nearly 18 years since Bergeron made his first playoff appearance — he had an assist in a win over Montreal — and he credits Martin Lapointe for helping him feel comfortable in the uncomfortable.

“He was just reassuring with those types of things that came up throughout the year, and when the playoffs came, it was more a matter of enjoying myself, and it remained the game of hockey that we all knew how to play,” Bergeron recalled. “Yes, it’s going to be a battle. The intensity is going to increase, and be ready for that, but that being said, it doesn’t mean you have to grip the stick any harder. Go back to what you do best and enjoy the moment.”

The 36-year-old Bergeron hasn’t committed to returning next season and thus could be looking at his final postseason run. As long as he’s in the Bruins’ orbit, though, they should feel good about their chances.

Thumbnail photo via Orlando Ramirez/USA TODAY Sports Images
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