Post-season heroes come in all forms from the star player to the unknown fourth-liner. We all know the exploits of the great playoff performers. However, we hardly hear about the unlikely playoff heroes. These unlikely post-season stars can contribute in many ways. Contributions could be for an entire playoff run, a series, a game or even a goal. These unlikely heroes have made big plays that no one expects. This series looks at all of these unknown stars. These are the unlikely Boston Bruins playoff heroes.
Boston Bruins Playoff Heroes
Before the Moment
Sean Kuraly was toiling as a 26-year-old bottom-six skater in 2018-19 before he had his playoff surge. Prior to the postseason in 2019, he had just 14 goals and 35 points in 154 games. That translates to a healthy .22 points per game. There weren’t many expectations for Kuraly as a former fifth-round selection from 2011, but all that changed when Boston entered the postseason as the Atlantic Division’s second seed.
Kuraly went from scoring just .30 points per game during the regular season to .5, which is a fairly sizeable jump. Almost every aspect of his game improved from scoring to advanced stats to ice time; he averaged 13:46 in 71 regular-season games. That jumped to 15:39 in 20 games with four goals and 10 points in the stretch.
The key point in that run was two goals and five points in five games against the Carolina Hurricanes and St. Louis Blues. Kuraly was a big part of the team’s battle against the Blues. The Bruins won the two games in which he scored a goal but lost three of the final four where he failed to contribute a point. It’s not as though Kuraly didn’t try in those losses; he took seven shots in the final three defeats, but the lack of depth scoring was part of what doomed Boston in the Stanley Cup Finals.
Kuraly had a perfectly fine follow-up in 2019-20. He scored six goals and a career-high 23 points in 69 games. His per-game scoring wasn’t significantly above that of 2018-19, but he continues to fill the role of a two-way option in Boston’s bottom-six. The spring hiatus cut into what have could been an even better year for the former Miami of Ohio skater.
Before the Moment
There was very little that Mark Recchi had not accomplished by the time he was 42-years-old in 2010-11. He was still a very productive skater with 14 goals and 48 points in 81 games, but he wasn’t Boston’s star by any means. Much of the focus was on developing stars Milan Lucic and Patrice Bergeron. Recchi was the craft veteran at this stage, not someone expected to really take over a game at an advanced age.
Recchi had a magnificent game in game six of the Stanley Cup Finals against the Vancouver Canucks. He assisted on three of the team’s five goals, including two of the first four in the first period to cement the game. Recchi was the primary assist on two of his three after going two consecutive games without a point at all. He followed the three assists with one more in the dominant game seven that gave Boston its first Stanley Cup since 1971-72.
Recchi retired after that magical final run. He was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2017 and recently joined the New Jersey Devils as an assistant coach. The 1500-point scorer remains one of the game’s most respected individuals. It certainly doesn’t hurt to win a ring in the final year of playing.
Before the Moment
Randy Burridge was something of an interesting case going into the best playoff run of his career. He had scored 58 goals and 116 points in 159 games from 1987-88 to 1988-89, but that scoring rate plummeted to just 17 goals and 32 points in 63 games for 1989-90. Such a drop could have infuriated and perplexed the Boston faithful who had Cam Neely and Ray Bourque leading the charge. Burridge was a secondary piece in an era where ice time was not recorded the way it is now.
Burridge started out blazing hot when Boston opened the 1989-90 playoffs against the Hartford Whalers. The 5’9″ former Peterborough Pete had two goals and six points in the first six games. He was a huge part of Boston’s 4-3 victory. His scoring would ultimately total four goals and 15 points in 21 games, but over 1/3 of that came in just one series. The Bruins would roll through the Montreal Canadiens and Washington Capitals before falling to the Edmonton Oilers in the Finals. Burridge had a few ok moments that never quite recaptured the magic of that opening series.
The following years were very much a mixed bag for Burridge. He had another year scoring below 35 points in 1990-91 before moving to Washington and surging back with 23 goals and 44 points in 66 games. However, that was the final year with more than 42 points. Burridge played for Washington, the Los Angeles Kings and Buffalo Sabres through the ’90s. He retired after the 1997-98 season after scoring 199 goals and 450 points in 706 games as an eight-round selection from the 1985 Draft.
That does it for the Boston Bruins Playoff Heroes stay tuned for the next team in our series.
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