BRIGHTON, Mass – Lost amid the suspensions, injuries and match-up drama for the Boston Bruins in the final week of the regular season was the simple fact that the Black and Gold were finally back in the postseason. It’s been a welcomed departure over the last couple of days with the Bruins excitedly chatting about playoff hockey and their first round opponent in Ottawa after missing out on all of this in each of the previous two postseasons.
Absence has clearly made this core group of Bruins players very fond of Stanley Cup playoff hockey, so they’re looking forward to making up for lost time once the puck is dropped for Game 1 on Wednesday night at the Canadian Tire Centre. It will be interesting to see what this combination of Cup-proven veterans and young upstarts can do in the postseason matched against the trap-happy Senators along with 1-3-1 mastermind/head coach Guy Boucher.
“We’re all very excited. This is the best time of year. This is what you fight for and sacrifice for all year long, so it’s great to back,” said Brad Marchand. “It’s going to be a lot of work, but we’re really excited. I think we had a really good run where we were in the playoffs for a while, but when you miss it you really start to appreciate how hard it is to get there.
“You can’t take it for granted. It’s great to be back again and we’re really looking forward to it.”
With many young B’s players like David Pastrnak, Charlie McAvoy, Colin Miller, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, Brandon Carlo, Ryan Spooner and Frank Vatrano that haven’t ever appeared in a Stanley Cup playoff game, it may come down to grizzled playoff performers and Cup champions like Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara, David Krejci and Tuukka Rask stepping up and carrying a dinged-up Bruins roster to start the series.
“Those are the guys that are going to have to carry this club [in the playoffs],” said Bruce Cassidy. “Our best players are going to have to be our best players. We know that. The younger guys, Vatrano and I’d even put Pastrrnak in that group with Spooner, McAvoy and Colin Miller, they’re going to have to adjust quickly. But I’m not going to say that if they’re not our best players tomorrow night that we have no chance, because I don’t think that’s fair to them.
“They may need some time to adjust, so it’s going to be our veteran players that are going to have to push the younger guys along early. I think that’s an advantage no matter who we line up against. We have guys that have won the Stanley Cup and they’ve been through the grind. They know what to expect, so they’ll have to do their part leadership-wise with the younger guys, and I have no doubt they will.”