Recchi, Bergeron set the tone for Bruins


Recchi, Bergeron set the tone for Bruins

By JoeHaggerty

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. There was no confirmation that Journey was playing in the background as he spoke, but there was a distinct Dont Stop Believing tone to Mark Recchis message when he addressed the Bruins prior to Game 3.

The 43-year-old Recchi, along with Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara, came together to form the Black and Gold's leadership triumvirate two years ago, and forged it with another strong season this year.

So on a team full of leaders, and in a time of need prior to Game 3, it was Bergeron who raised his game on the ice and it was Recchi who spoke to the team about his experience in 2006 while a member of the Stanley Cup-winning Carolina Hurricanes

It was about the guys believing in each other said Recchi. "I joined the Hurricanes with 20 games left and saw how much the guys believed in what they were doing. They stayed with it and everyone believed in it. Its all about believing and believing in what weve done all year. Believing in each other and trusting what weve done all year. Trusting each other, and thats what it comes down to.

"If the Bruins didn't trust each other then we wouldnt have won Game 3, and now we have to believe in each other even more in Game 4 on Thursday. Trust each other that each guy is going to go out and do their job, and do good things for the hockey club like we have all year. If we do that, then weve put ourselves in good position to win a hockey game. If not then well be making it very hard for ourselves. Theres no better step than Thursday trying to get home ice back, and then we get back home and see where we go from there.

That 'Canes team was actually down 2-0 after a pair of home losses to the Montreal Canadiens, and roared back to defeat the Habs before winning right on through the Stanley Cup Finals. The easiest change in Carolinas fortune was the insertion of rookie goaltender Cam Ward into the series before a Game 3 win that turned things around.

But Recchi did his best Steve Perry impersonation while drawing parallels between that Carolina squad and this Boston team as the B's attempt the same unlikely, come-from-behind feat against the high-flying Habs.

Being through something like that shows you that you can do it, and that it can be done, said Recchi, his blue eyes flashing with excitement while hearkening back to the Stanley Cup memories. It was a lot of work, but you have to stay focused. Weve done it on the road all year, and its showed. We have to play another one, and were going to have to be even better in Game 4.

There are technical sides to winning hockey, to be sure.

The Bruins have to pursue all the textbook diligence in Claude Juliens hockey system, and that means dumping pucks deep, forechecking with reckless abandon and containing the speedy Montreal snipers. Most importantly, the Bs cant shoot themselves in the foot as they did with bad defensive zone play in the first two games.

A pair of soft five-hole goals allowed by Tim Thomas in Game 3 didnt help, either, but they survived those gaffes.

Theyre fast and theyre a very good hockey team said Recchi of the Canadiens, who should be hungry for a win in Game 4. So we have to be smart and understand that first five goals they scored in the series were off turnovers. They were basically all in the neutral zone and the defensive zone, and we have to be smart and wary of that. Were fast, too, but the system they run thrives on turnovers and theyre very good at it.

While Recchi has been solid with three assists and a plus-1 in three games and instrumental in calming the teams psyche off the ice, its been linemates Bergeron and Brad Marchand who have taken it to another level in each of the three games thus far.

Marchand has been all over the Montreal cage with golden scoring chances he hasnt quite yet buried.

The line has scorched the defense corps of Jaroslav Spacek and Brent Sopel regularly in the three games, and Bergeron has been Bostons best player from the beginning to current end of the series.

His Game 2 goal nearly pulled the Bruins back into that game, and his Game 3 effort all over the ice in a must-win match at the Bell Centre was downright inspired hockey.

Better than that, Bergeron has thrown his weight around in the playoffs with a bit more ferocity. The 25-year-old has also been noticeably more vocal in his own dressing room and in the face of opponents, and all of that reveals just how engaged Bergeron has been during the postseason.

Hes probably been our best forward. Hes such a good player for us. I think he was the No. 1 Star in Game 3 and I thought he was the best player out there, said coach Claude Julien. He just competes hard. Hes so focused and determined, and everything about his game is professional whether its conditioning, whether its rest or whether its focus or showing up for every game ready to play.

There are times when we talk about Patrice and say he hasnt scored in a little while, but no matter what he is doing something to help the hockey club. Thats what you want from your players. Hes more vocal than he ever has been. Earlier in his career he was a young player feeling his way through, but hes pretty confident now about his leadership role and qualities. Hes one of those guys that doesnt speak every game, but when he does speak he has their attention.

The one thing that does need to change: Bergeron is averaging almost three minutes of ice time less per game during the postseason than David Krejci and Milan Lucic, who have floundered with a combined minus-4 for much of the series. Bergeron is averaging a crisp 36 seconds per shift and getting on and off the ice with machine-like precision while also fully admitting that some of his shifts are a bit shorter due to his penalty-kill duties. Lucic (51 seconds), Krejci (53 seconds) and Horton (48 seconds) are all staying out on the ice for longer stretches of time with each shift, and tiring themselves out while going up and down the ice multiple times per twirl.

Perhaps its time for the Bs top line to get in line with the rest of the squad, and cut things down a bit to make sure theyre not caught on the ice at the tail end of Herculean shifts.

That hasnt been the case for the line of Bergeron, Recchi and Marchand, which has been so good for the Bruins this postseason.

Recchi and Bergeron should know the numbers headed into Game 4, and some of them can be pretty daunting.

According to the web site, the lower-seeded teams up 2-1 in a series -- as Montreal is currently -- have advanced 60.5 percent of the time in the history NHL playoffs. But that numbers skyrockets to 87.8 percent of the time if the team goes up 3-1 in the series with a Game 4 victory.

If the series gets to 2-2 its pretty much 5050 which teams come out on top, and that means the Bruins have to like their odds if they can eke out another victory at a riotous Bell Centre lusting for a win.

Itll be tough without question, but the Bruins being led by Recchis head and Bergerons heart are in a pretty solid place to start.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Morning Skate: Asking price on Shattenkirk should scare off Bruins

Morning Skate: Asking price on Shattenkirk should scare off Bruins

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading after watching the Boston Celtics take a hard pass on the Boogie. 
-- Bob McKenzie sits in with the good folks at TSN 1200 Ottawa sports radio and talks a little Claude Julien of the Montreal Canadiens

-- The Avalanche youth movement is set to begin as quickly as March 1, as Colorado may move some of its veteran players at the trade deadline. 
-- Ryan Johansen got snubbed in his return to Columbus for the first time as a member of the Nashville Predators. That’s too bad, but it’s also not exactly Wayne Gretzky returning to the Edmonton Oilers for the first time. 
-- The price tag for Kevin Shattenkirk is in and it includes a top prospect and a first-round pick, along with another piece, for a rental defenseman. That should be far too rich for the Bruins’ blood. The B's were already intent on avoiding the rental market ahead of the trade deadline, and the steep price -- even for a potentially useful short-term acquisition like the puck-moving Shattenkirk -- should make that even more of a certainty. 
-- Ken Campbell asks whether hockey agents have gone too far in chasing after prospective prospects before they even enter their teenage years. 

 -- Bobby Ryan has a hand injury that’s going to sideline him, another piece of bad luck for the Senators forward. 
-- For something completely different: On President’s Day, it seems only natural to go through the favorite Presidents in the history of the Marvel Universe.