Rich Peverley does his best Nathan Horton and the Bruins are grateful
|06.09.11 at 1:09 am ET|
On Wednesday night at TD Garden, as the Bruins took the ice for Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals against Vancouver, Rich Peverley had some extraordinarily large shoes to fill.
After all, Nathan Horton has done it all this postseason for the Bruins – especially in the clutch. There was the overtime winner in Game 5 against Montreal. There was the overtime winner in Game 7 against Montreal.
And there was game-winner against Tampa Bay in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals.
But Horton won’t be playing anymore this season. Peverley was moved up to the top line of David Krejci and Milan Lucic and responded with first and last goals of a 4-0 thumping of the Canucks to even the series at 2-2 going back to Vancouver.
Peverley wasn’t informed he was on the top line until just before the game.
“Just before warm-ups,” Peverley said when asked when he found out he was playing on the top line. “I had no idea who was going to go in there, if it was going to be me or [Michael Ryder]. Rydes took a lot of shifts with them too. [Tyler Seguin] was in there, too. Nothing is set in stone.
“I haven’t contributed as well as I think I could, offensively. Anytime you can help out, especially in this environment, you want to do so.”
Julien has experimented with different looks for his top line and came to the conclusion before Game 4 that Peverley was his choice.
“We had different looks,” Julien said. “We saw [Michael] Ryder go up there a few times as well when Rich was killing penalties. I said I’d use different players at that position. Pev’s got good speed. Their line had forechecks pretty well with Lucic on one side. We thought we’d keep that going. He still has pretty decent hands. We thought we would start with that. Michael is another guy who can fit on that line as well. Certainly Tyler [Seguin] was a consideration. His skill and speed level on that line at times also.”
Tim Thomas was happy not only for Peverley but for the well-being of the man he replaced as Nathan Horton paid a surprised visit after the win.
“I was very, very happy to see Nathan up and around in the locker room,” Tim Thomas said when asked about Peverley filling in for Horton. “I wasn’t exactly sure of his status. You know, I’d heard that he was okay, but then I heard it was a severe concussion. I didn’t know if ‘okay’ meant he’s going to live or…
“When I personally got to see him in the locker room, you know, I was incredibly happy and it gave me a big boost. He was there to pass the jacket on. We didn’t pass the jacket on the last game with him gone. I think the team would have been happy leaving it with Horty for the rest of this series, but he wanted to give it away and keep the tradition going that we’d started.”
And after watching Peverley light it up Wednesday, Horton felt it time to reward good play, even by a player selected by Julien to take his spot.
“So actually he gave it to Peverley, the guy who replaced him on the line,” Julien said. “He was obviously great for us tonight. He got the first goal and the last goal. That first goal and the fourth goal are very important goals. We wouldn’t have won without the way he played. I think he did a great job stepping into Horty’s spot on the line. I’m very happy for Pevs, too.”