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Wednesday, 01 May 2013 01:24

Keep an eye on role players as B's open series vs. Leafs

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 (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

BOSTON—To put it mildly, the Bruins have had a very successful run the past few years, and a large portion of that success is due to the elite players the Bruins have at their disposal. Zdeno Chara, Tyler Seguin, and Patrice Bergeron could all fall into that category. There is no doubt that they will be a big part of Boston’s opening playoff series against Toronto, with the puck dropping tomorrow night at the Garden at 7 PM. However, in the end, this series may produce heroes that you may not expect, and if Boston wants to snatch victory from their foes across the border, that’s exactly what needs to happen.

 Consider 35-year-old veteran Wade Redden. Acquired on April 3, the defenseman was brought in to shore up Boston’s defense. The tough, gritty Canadian has played a key role for the Bruins, both offensively and defensively. Take for example his goal against Philadelphia back on April 23. His tally was not scored on a pretty slapshot  or a savvy backhander. Instead, it was an aggressive tip-in where the puck barely crossed the line, and he had to slash and fight his way through a sea of orange jerseys for the goal. Plain and simple, he got to a dirty area, and sacrificed his well-being for a goal.

 On the other hand, Kaspars Daugavins is the complete opposite of Redden. He is extremely crafty, and his stick looks like a needle on a record as he weaves to and fro on the ice. His shootout attempt against the Bruins as a Senator is still being talked about today.  His ability to keep plays alive and his puck-handling ability will be a welcome edition for the playoffs.

 Rich Peverley is another player who will need to play big come playoff time. Ever since joining the Bruins in 2011, he has been a huge bonus. Sometimes there are players who fit their role perfectly, and he is one of them. He just goes about his business and does his job, and does it very well. In seven playoff games last season, he amassed three goals and two assists for five points, which led the team, and was one point ahead of Tyler Seguin who notched six. Like Redden, he is not afraid to get to the dirty areas and is a grinder who can log many minutes.

 He has been in two playoff series with Boston and has scored 15 total points. In that regard, he can also bring experience to the table. Given his veteran status, Redden can too, but Peverley of course has a working knowledge of the Boston system, something that these other two do not necessarily have yet. With several new faces, having a role player like Peverley can certainly make a difference. His presence was felt on Sunday as he scored the Bruins’ first goal at the end of the second period to make it 2-1. The goal was set up nicely by Redden, who got munched at the end of the play. Fortunately, the pass had enough mustard on it that it fell into Peverley’s wheelhouse and he rattled the cage to give the Bruins momentum heading into the third frame. Boosts like that from him will be crucial, as the grind of this marathon season continues to make its presence felt on everyone involved.

 The last player I will highlight is Chris Kelly. Like Peverley, he first began donning the Black and Gold sweater in 2011. From there, he has made an immediate impact. Who can forget his overtime goal in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Captials? That was just one of his many memorable moments while in a Bruins’ uniform and I am sure there will be more. After all, the 112:33 of ice time he logged during last year’s postseason run speaks for itself.

 Sure,  the bigger names may ultimately decide the series, but there is a good chance that the role players (and not only the ones I mentioned above) will make things happen.