Mason Lohrei's playoff stance is not any surprise to the Bruins captain


Brad Marchand has a whopping 150 playoff games under his belt.

With his one-timer faltering Saturday night, Boston's captain lit the lamp 56 times through the Stanley Cup playoffs. No Bruins player has scored more goals within the postseason.

Experience is a prized commodity through the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Teams place a high value on seasoned veterans who’ve already endured the physical and mental rigor required to secure hockey's most coveted prize.

But for all his accolades at hockey's highest stage, Marchand doesn't all the time imagine experience is the deciding factor relating to delivering within the playoffs.

Because when the 35-year-old Marchand won the Stanley Cup in 2011, he was a 23-year-old rookie – unencumbered by the pressure that understandably builds over time as NHL players push for a coveted title.

Thirteen years later, Boston's elder statesmen see one other Bruins rookie following the same script during playoff motion in 23-year-old defenseman Mason Lohrei.

“I remember my first run, it's pure adrenaline,” Marchand said after Boston's 3-1 win over the Maple Leafs in Game 4. “You go out there and you're so excited that you finally have the opportunity to do it.” You've worked and played this game your whole life, and the hours and time you've put in gives you a likelihood to play for the Stanley Cup.

“And that’s right in front of you. And it's just pure adrenaline. … Mason came in and played incredible for us. He made a lot of really good plays and jumped up in the game. He fights hard and plays strong defensively. So it’s great to see.”

Forced into the playoffs after an injury to Andrew Peeke and a scratch to Matt Grzelcyk, Lohrei played a key role in Boston's win on Saturday – he was a key helper on James van Riemsdyk's opening tally and logged 17:36 of ice time.

“How assertive he was,” Jim Montgomery said Sunday about what stood out about Lohrei's play in Game 4. “I mean, he was so good last night. With the puck, without the puck, he was all over the ice making plays and obviously he was a big part of why we won.”

It doesn't take long to know why Lohrei is taken into account Boston's top player in its potential pipeline.

His shot-first approach and playmaking attitude as a defenseman is probably not a whole outlier in today's skill-critical NHL. But few D-men can hit the bottom running and produce Grade-A looks while also boasting a sturdy 6-foot-1, 220-pound frame that ought to only increase over time.

After a quieter performance in Game 3 at Scotiabank Arena, Lohrei made a direct impact in the primary period of Saturday's win.

A heads-up play from the rookie arrange Boston's first goal as Lohrei made a save from the offensive blue line as Toronto stickman Ryan Reaves attempted to direct a puck over the boards.

Lohrei's pin caused Reaves to hurl the puck under duress, leading to a turnover on Class A ice, which van Riemsdyk promptly slipped past Ilya Samsonov and put Boston on the board at 15:09 of the primary period.

It was an exhilarating move from Boston's young defender, whose confidence had been demonstrated earlier within the period when he attempted to beat Samsonov with a deft between-the-legs effort at 4-on-4.

Lohrei's creativity with the puck on his stick is welcome within the postseason. But to remain within the lineup, he must proceed to make the correct plays, avoid turnovers against forechecking pressure and limit the number of excellent probabilities in front of Jeremy Swayman and Linus Ullmark.

But after two games, the rookie appears to be as much as the duty.

“This time of year you have to belong and want to make a difference,” Marchand said. “And that’s what we seem to have in the group right now. …Him and Johnny (Beecher) and Parker (Wotherspoon) were unbelievable for us. And I think that’s just because they go out and play and have that belief in themselves.”

Forbort comes closer

Derek Forbort was not cleared for Games 3 and 4 in Toronto this week, however the 32-year-old defenseman took part within the warmups that led to Saturday's win.

Montgomery indicated the team will evaluate Forbort's availability for Game 5 after practice on Monday. But his participation in warmups marked one other box for Forbort in his recovery from surgery in March.

“It's about getting him into the routine in case he becomes an option,” Montgomery said of Forbort's performance during warmups. “Get used to the routine of how you prepare for the game and all those things. Engaging with your teammates, listening to the locker room – all of that is important to your preparation if you become an option down the road.”

Any clues about Boston's starting goaltender in Game 5?

“Find out Tuesday night,” Montgomery remarked.

Matthews still suffers from an illness

Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe didn’t provide a positive update on Toronto's star forward Auston Matthews on Sunday. Matthews didn’t play within the third period of Game 4 on Saturday because doctors ruled him out of the sport because of illness.

“We thought the last few days would help us” Keefe told reporters in Toronto on Sunday. “But for some reason it’s not one of those everyday illnesses that come and go. This one has lingered and the effects have lingered and are getting worse when he is on the ice and asserting himself.”

Matthews was one of the best player on the ice for Toronto through the Leafs' Game 2 win at TD Garden – he scored a goal and two major assists over 23:24 of ice time while recording eight shots on goal, a team-high six goals and… 16 of 23 Faceoffs won.

But Matthews was unable to hold this game through in Games 3 and 4 as he scored zero points with a complete of 4 shots on goal in each losses.

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