BOSTON – The plan when the season started was to give veteran winger Mark Recchi some games off over the course of the year to keep him fresh for the stretch run.
Well, the Bruins are right in the thick of the stretch run and Recchi still hasn’t missed a game. Not only that, but unlike many of his teammates, he hasn’t taken any “nights off” while dressed for the game eight during Boston’s up-and-down campaign.
“We need to play, I need to play and I still feel great,” Recchi said after he set the tone by drawing an early penalty and finished with a goal and an assist in Boston’s 5-0 win over Calgary Saturday at TD Garden. “So, I’ve got tons of energy and coach has been good with me and giving me days off. As long as I keep staying fresh, I don’t need to take any games off.”
Recchi showed that energy right off the bat against the Flames with a hit on Robyn Regehr on the forecheck that created a turnover. Seconds later, Recchi drove the net and drew a hooking penalty on Craig Conroy. Boston promptly grabbed the lead with a power-play goal from Dennis Seidenberg while Recchi and his usual even-strength linemates Patrice Bergeron and Marco Sturm wreaked havoc in front of Calgary goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff.
For a team as inconsistent as the Bruins facing a Flames team that’s in an even more desperate situation in the standings, it was imperative to get off to a fast start.
“We wanted to get off to a good start,” said Recchi. “We knew their situation too. We knew they were going to be desperate and we thought if we could get a lead on this team we could take a little bit of the will out of them.”
Recchi drew another penalty later in the game and was a menace on the forecheck all day, as he has been most of the time through 74 games. Even though Boston was up 4-0 in the third, Recchi didn’t step off the gas. With 5:51 remaining he capped the scoring by diving for a loose puck in the slot and backhanding into the mesh.
“I just went to the net and Bergy made a good play and Sturmie made a nice play by following up going to the net and the puck was just laying there and I do whatever I can to just get it in,” Recchi said.
The 42-year-old has done everything in his power all season not just to attempt to score but to keep the Bruins afloat. In an injury-riddle season for the Bruins as a team, Recchi is one of three Bruins – along with Blake Wheeler and Michael Ryder – to play in every game, and that doesn’t figure to change any time soon – at least in his case. Recchi has been a true tone-setter every night and an inspiration to all. That’s left head coach Claude Julien with one less decision to make this season when making out his lineup card.
“We haven’t been able to (rest Recchi), but at the same time he has shown no signs of a guy slowing down,” said the coach. “So maybe we underestimated his conditioning and toughness throughout the schedule. I see him playing hard and playing well night after night. So unless we see signs of fatigue during games that we have to pull him out. But right now we can’t afford to pull anybody out.”
Especially, Recchi, a future Hall-of-Famer who seems like he might be able to play forever – games off be damned.