BOSTON -- As the Bruins prepared to face the Detroit Red Wings in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup playoffs Friday night at TD Garden, Patrice Bergeron remembered what it was like to play in his first NHL postseason game.
He was an 18-year-old rookie during the 2003-2004 season when the Bruins faced the Montreal Canadiens in the first round. At the time, the Quebec native had played 71 regular-season games and was about to face his hometown team.
Bruins veteran Marty Lapointe pulled Bergeron aside to help the rookie calm his nerves.
“It was a great moment for me playing Montreal and all the family watching,” Bergeron said. “I remember the nerves were there but Marty calmed me down by saying that and he was right. I was there all year, so it was just about keeping that going.”
Now it’s time for Bergeron to play the role of veteran. The Bruins’ Reilly Smith just completed his first full season in the NHL and Friday will be his first taste of the Stanley Cup playoffs, so Bergeron’s advice to Smith, and other less-experienced Bruins players, will be simple.
“Just play their game and there’s a reason why they’re here. It comes down to playing hockey,” Bergeron said. “You can’t think too much out there. It’s about following your instincts and that’s what I’ll tell them. They’ve been great all year and just keep doing what they’ve been doing.”
As Bergeron’s linemate, Smith played well this season. He experienced the normal ups and downs of the season. When puck drops against the Red Wings, Smith said he hopes his nerves will be in check.
“We’ll see, I guess,” he said. “Having the guys around me and playing with Bergeron will help a lot because having leadership around you tends seep off them and you kind of pick it up.”
Another aspect Smith will deal with this series is playing against his older brother, Brendan, who is a defenseman for the Red Wings.
“I don’t think we’re going to talk much throughout the series, though,” Smith said with a laugh.
The Smith family will be attending each game, so which one will they be rooting for?
“They’ll probably be wearing the jersey sewed down the middle with Boston and Detroit,” Smith said. “They’re just really excited both of us have this opportunity.”