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  • How the Bruins filled the leadership void without Bergeron and Krejci

    Tim Rosenthal April 22, 2023

    SUNRISE, Fla. — Life without Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci is quickly approaching for the Boston Bruins.

    On Friday, Bruins fans throughout New England and the several thousand who traveled to FLA Live Arena for Game 3 got a glimpse at life without Bergeron and Krejci under meaningful circumstances.

    Bergeron remains at home to nurse an upper-body injury. Head coach Jim Montgomery provided a positive update on Bergeron’s status before Friday’s tilt, stating he’s “likely” to return for Game 5 on Wednesday night at TD Garden.

    The Bruins played their third straight game without Bergeron in a pivotal Game 3. An unexpected development with Krejci’s last-minute scratch left Boston without its top two battle-tested centermen.

    Indeed, it was far from ideal. But the Bruins made the most of their situation.

    The depth among the forwards and defensemen helped the Bruins overcome their first hurdle without Bergeron and Krejci.

    Charlie Coyle thrived in top-line center duty, playing like a man possessed in one of the better postseason outings of his Boston tenure. Charlie McAvoy provided tone-setting hits from the opening puck drop.

    Together, the two Charlie’s played a starring role in Boston’s 4-2 win.

    “The Charlies out there are just absolute animals,” Linus Ullmark said of McAvoy and Coyle. “It’s great to have them because they play the right way.”

    Nick Foligno would’ve been the odd man out before Krejci’s pregame exit. On Friday, the former Columbus captain became an unlikely contributor, providing a third-period insurance tally for his first playoff goal in nearly three years.

    “I’ve played long enough to know that [the playoffs] is an emotional roller coaster,” Foligno said. “Obviously, you want to play. You don’t want Krech to be out, but when I got told to play, you have to be ready. This is an opportunity, and I went to these guys just like I’d be expecting these guys to be ready to play at any moment. It’s no different than how I would prepare any other day.”

    Without Bergeron and Krejci, the Bruins led by example in Game 3.

    A few of their other reliable vets, like Marchand, McAvoy, Coyle, Foligno and David Pastrnak, took it upon themselves to fill the leadership void.

    “You can’t replace a Patrice Bergeron or David Krejci. You just can’t,” Coyle said after Game 3. “But we do it together. Every guy pitches in, and I thought it was a really solid effort all around.”

    The next core of Bruins leaders took it upon themselves to deliver a bounce-back win. That will only bode well in the post-Bergeron and Krejci era.

    Marchand, himself, admits he’ll need time to adjust if he continues his career after Bergeron and Krejci retire. But the savvy top-six veteran notices the encouraging development from the upcoming leadership group, including Pastrnak, McAvoy, Coyle, Brandon Carlo, Hampus Lindholm and Matt Grzelcyk (to name a few).

    As a potential heir to the captaincy, Marchand said he’d be more than happy to share the knowledge he gained from the likes of Bergeron, Krejci, Zdeno Chara and Mark Recchi if that day comes. He also knows that Father time lies ahead.

    At the moment, he’s not even thinking about the captaincy or retirement plans.

    “When they retire, I retire. I can’t play without [Bergeron and Krejci],” Marchand joked.

    “I’ll be very grateful for when that day does come that I’ve had leaders to follow and to learn from. And I know I won’t be them. I know I won’t be Bergy [Bergeron] and Zee [Chaara] and Krech [Krejci] and Rex [Recchi] and the guys that have come before. I do know that I’ve learned a lot from them, and hopefully, I can pass it on to the next guys. That just means that Chuckie [McAvoy] and Pasta [Pastrnak] and Coyle and those guys will all have to come together as a group and hopefully lead as a group.”

    The Bruins may need to come together once more without their top two centers. Montgomery listed Krejci as questionable for Game 4 on Sunday afternoon.

    But as the next core of leaders assembles their footing, the Bruins still feel Bergeron’s presence from afar. The third-year Boston captain continues to provide his wisdom and insight via text messages, facetime calls, and other forms of digital communication.


    “No matter the position he’s in, he’s always trying to find a way to help and let guys use his experience to feel good about their game and want to be better and allow them to be comfortable. It’s what makes him an incredible leader, and an incredible teammate and friend. Even when he’s trying to get himself better, he’s putting the team first and trying to make everyone more comfortable,” Marchand said of Bergeron.

    “We’re looking forward to getting him back soon. But yeah, we’re very fortunate to have a captain like him lead the way even when he’s not here with us.”

    For now, Bergeron has the Bruins on speed dial. In turn, the team has Bergeron’s and Krejci’s backs.

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    Tim Rosenthal

    Tim Rosenthal serves as the Managing Editor of Bruins Daily. He started contributing videos to the site in 2010 before fully coming on board during the Bruins' Stanley Cup run in 2011. His bylines over the last decade have been featured on Boston.com, FoxSports.com, College Hockey News, Patch and Inside Hockey. You can follow Tim on Twitter @_TimRosenthal.


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