Commentary

Recchi proving he still belongs

Bruins' veteran forward answers his critics with historic Game 2 goal

Updated: June 5, 2011, 1:13 PM ET
By Joe McDonald | ESPNBoston.com

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Mark Recchi is playing like he wants to retire.

The Boston Bruins veteran forward and future Hall of Famer said before the end of the regular season that if this team were to win the Stanley Cup, then he would retire after 23 glorious and successful seasons in the NHL.

Unfortunately for the Bruins, the Vancouver Canucks have a 2-0 series lead in the Stanley Cup finals. Boston suffered two devastating losses here at Rogers Arena, so the 43-year-old's future once again comes into question.

His present status has also been challenged, with some wondering why he's still on the ice, especially with the Stanley Cup at stake.

[+] EnlargeMark Recchi
Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images On Saturday, Mark Recchi became the oldest player to score a goal in a Stanley Cup final.

"I'm not worried about the critics. I'm worried about my teammates," Recchi said. "Those critics are not in the dressing room every day. They don't know what I bring to the table every day. They can kiss my a--. My teammates, my coaching staff is all I care about."

And they care about him.

Of course, the Bruins want to win the Stanley Cup for themselves and for the fans, but they want to win it for Recchi so he can go out on top and walk into the Hall of Fame with three rings on his fingers.

He scored Boston's first goal of Game 2 on Saturday night, a power-play tally at 11:35 of the second period to give the Bruins a 2-1 lead.

Recchi was doing what he does best, getting into those dirty areas, when he redirected Zdeno Chara's slap shot past Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo.

"I have a job to do and that's being focused on helping in the dressing room and playing physical and trying to create things," Recchi said.

On Saturday, Recchi became the oldest player to score a goal in a Stanley Cup final. The previous oldest was Igor Larionov at 41 years old in Game 4 of the 2002 final for the Red Wings at Carolina.

Sure, Recchi has lost a step, or two, or maybe even three, but the minutes he logs during a game are usually productive ones. He communicates on the ice, on the bench and in the dressing room. He's a winner and he needs to be in this lineup.

"I think he's fine," said Bruins assistant captain Patrice Bergeron. "He's been around the block more than once. His experience helps everyone on the ice so much. We're just happy to have a guy like Rex on our team."

If the veteran was not in the lineup, it would no doubt have a negative effect on the team.

"He has scored a lot of goals in his career by tipping them on the power play," David Krejci said. "He did it again today and that's what we like to see. A lot of us have to step up and he did it tonight. It was good to see him get our first [power-play] goal of the final and hopefully he can keep putting the puck in the net."

Each Bruins player was asked following Saturday's 3-2 overtime loss how it would be possible for a team to rebound from a two-game deficit, especially after Boston could have won both of these games in Vancouver.

Each gave the standard Bruins answer, which has become so popular this season during the times when the team struggled. It's that mentality of forget it and move on. That philosophy worked against the Montreal Canadiens in the quarterfinals, and it certainly worked in the semifinals against the Philadelphia Flyers when Boston pulled off a revengeful four-game sweep.

It's Recchi who has created that winning mentality. He was the guy who brought his two Cup rings into the locker room as motivational tools before Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

It's no different in this current situation.

"Yeah, we're disappointed and guys are going to be upset," Recchi said after the loss. "We have a right to be. But as soon as we get on that plane [Sunday morning] it's over. We're going home to our crowd. The city is electric and it's going to be an unbelievable atmosphere on Monday for us. We need to take that and use that to our advantage. We need to focus on Game 3."

Despite two terrible losses in Vancouver, Recchi said the Bruins can take some positive out of both and that will prove crucial as the series shifts to Boston.

"We pushed them pretty hard here," he said. "Now we've got to go home and try to do our job. If we do that job then we'll be back here."

The Canucks are two wins away from hoisting the Stanley Cup. Boston needs four. Mark Recchi is still planning on retiring and that's why he needs to be in the lineup.

"We're going home, which is a great thing," he said. "We came in here and gave them everything they can handle in their building. We've got to go home and do our job now. [Boston] is electric right now and we've got to go home and do our job. We can be upset tonight, but we have to focus on Game 3."

Joe McDonald covers the Bruins and the Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com.

Joe McDonald

Reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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