There are plenty of overrated stats, analytics, and motivational tactics in sports.
High-quality, veteran leadership is not one of those areas of hyperbole.
Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara are currently showing the Bruins' young guns what it takes to win a championship. Bergeron reportedly delivered a pre-game speech to the B's before Game 6 that would make Bill Parcells jealous, and Chara has shown leadership just by taking the ice in the past two games after (likely) breaking his jaw.
It's a shame that we don't have any NFL Films-like "Sounds of the Game" from Bergeron's speech. From all accounts it was a doozy. Here are some reports about what, exactly, Bergeron's pre-Game 6 speech was about.
"[Charlie] McAvoy said it was Bergeron's message that resonated the most. Talked to the team about everyone dreaming about this as kids and not letting it end yet." (via Isabelle Khurshudyan, Washington Post)
"[Charlie] McAvoy says Patrice Bergeron stepped up with the pre-game message. 'It was exactly what we needed.' He said his first Stanley Cup run has been such an emotional roller coaster that it was tough until Bergeron spoke." (via Frank Seravalli, TSN Sports)
"Jake DeBrusk and Charlie McAvoy said that Patrice Bergeron delivered quite the speech in the locker room ahead of this game. DeBrusk: 'It made us all want to run through a wall.'" (Conor Ryan, Boston Sports Journal)
More from DeBrusk:
"He's a legend," DeBrusk said of the Bruins' alternate captain. "He said some words that, I don't know if he necessarily wants me to repeat. They weren't bad words but … it was just about what we all dream about doing. I mean, we're here for a reason and everyone that plays hockey grows up and dreams of playing in this moment and it was pretty much something along those lines. It set the tone that way."
And then there’s the leadership-by-example Chara has displayed in this Cup Final. Win or lose on Wednesday night, Chara’s showing after getting hit in the face with the puck in Game 4 will go right up there with Curt Schilling’s bloody sock game, Kevin McHale playing in the 1987 NBA playoffs on a broken foot, and Nathan Eovaldi pitching late into the night in Los Angeles last fall in terms of gutty Boston sports performances.
“He’s our leader,” Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask said of Chara. “He’s the toughest guy out there. He doesn’t take any games off unless it’s impossible to play. It’s an emotional lift for all of us. He’s the backbone of the defense, so it’s a great help for us to have him back there.”
Chara saw his playing time increase in Game 6 from Game 5 as he played 22 minutes and 15 seconds Sunday night after being on the ice for 16 minutes and 42 seconds last Thursday.
Something about 7
The Bruins have been making a habit out of playing Game 7s. They went seven games with the Maple Leafs in round 1 this year, winning the game 5-1 at home.
The B’s and Leafs also went to seven games last year in the first round, with Boston also coming out on top at home.
Before that you have to go back to 2014 for the B’s previous seventh game. That year the Bruins lost to the hated Canadiens at home, 3-1.
The Bruins own the NHL record for most Game 7s played (27) and most Game 7s won (15).