BostonBruins.com -- Providence was down 5-1 at the end of the second period of Game 7 against Wilkes-Barre. It was do-or-die time. The season was on the line, and the Bruins could either go out swinging or go out knowing they hadn’t given it their all, knowing they had more to give.
At a time like, it was crucial for leaders like David Warsofsky to step up.
“After the second period, I think everyone kind of thought we were out of it,” the defenseman said. “But at that point in the season, you have nothing to lose, so we just wanted to go out there and play hard, leave it all on the ice. You don’t want to wake up the next day and have any regrets about the game.”
So the Bruins did just that — they left it all on the ice. Warsofsky had scored at the end of the second period to but Providence on the board, and his teammates added three more in the third frame to pull within 5-4.
Time ran out — on the game, and on the Bruins’ season — but they went home knowing that they never gave up.
“In the third, we kind of just went out there and had fun,” Warsofsky said. “We were able to mount a comeback, and we weren’t able to do the whole thing, but it was fun to see. It was a hard way to go out, but I think everyone went out giving it their best.”
All season long, the Bruins found a way to fight. They fought to get into the playoffs, they fought to come back from a 2-1 series deficit in the first round of the playoffs and they fought in Game 7. They fought through a plethora of injuries throughout the season, and they kept fighting even as key players shipped up to Boston to help the big club.
“I don’t think I’ve been on a team where we overcame so much adversity,” Warsofsky said. “So as a young group, to do that really showed the character of the guys in the locker room and the staff that we have down here. We kept everyone so involved and on track. It was great to see, and just a fun group to play with all around.”
The Bruins were able to fight because of strong leadership from players like Warsofsky, who — with over three seasons of AHL experience under his belt — knows what it takes to win.
“David was an anchor on the team this year from day one,” said Bruins Assistant General Manager Don Sweeney. “He played with confidence and conviction on both sides of the play. He led a young group of D-men and wanted to be a difference-maker every night.”
And he was. Warsofsky came into this season knowing he had to be consistent night in and night out, which can be a challenge when you’re playing so many games – but is still a necessary component to any professional athlete’s game.
“You play so many games, but to be consistent every night, and maybe not have your best every night but bring something to the team to help the team win and do your part — I think for me, that’s been huge for me the last couple years,” he said. “I think I was a little bit inconsistent [in the past], and this year, I tried to really focus on that,” said Warsofsky.
In 56 games with Providence this year, the defenseman was a plus-8 and tallied six goals and 26 assists — all career highs — for 32 points. In 12 playoff games, he registered two goals and seven assists for nine points and emerged as a key leader on a young team.
“David continued his strong two-way play during the playoffs, and his offensive creativity was very apparent, especially when the team needed a big play to be made,” Sweeney said. “He isn’t the biggest blue liner, but his defensive reads and a strong stick and body position are big reasons that make him an effective defender.”
As evidenced by his performance in that critical Game 7 against Wilkes-Barre, Warsofsky always found a way to up his game at the most critical times.
“I think it’s just natural instincts — you want to play your best in the biggest games, and luckily, I was able to do that,” he said. “So I don’t know if it’s something that I do, or — I feel like it’s just one of those things where when it’s all on the line, you kind of raise your stakes a little bit. So it’s kind of just natural instincts. But I think we saw that from everyone on the team, and we had a great run but fell a little bit short in the end.”
Warsofsky is well aware that advancing to the playoffs is not a given. He has played with Providence for parts of two seasons but has only played in the postseason twice. Playoff experience goes a long way — understanding how to cope with pressure, how to up the ante, how to channel nerves into excitement — and while Warsofsky understands the importance of working on those aspects of his own game, he felt it was equally important this year to impart those lessons to some of his younger teammates.
“Obviously, the playoffs are a whole different animal compared to the regular season, but I think it’s almost just natural to up your game a little bit,” Warsofsky said. “The stakes are a lot higher, and every game means so much more, so I think you take it one game at a time and you go from there.
“At the same time, each game is very important, and we just tried to emphasize that with the young guys — you don’t get the opportunity to play in the playoffs every year, so you want to take advantage of that throughout your career and develop a lot of experience. So as a leader on the team, I kind of wanted to let the young guys know that you don’t get this opportunity all the time. So take advantage of it and enjoy the moment and play one game at a time.”
Once, Warsofsky was one of those young players trying to find his way, establish his place, prove that he belonged. Now, the staff looks to him to be one of the players leading the way, and while that certainly enhances his confidence, Warsofsky is quick to credit his teammates for making his job easier.
“That definitely brings a lot of confidence to my game, and I’ll definitely bring that into next year into training camp,” he said. “I wouldn’t say it was me by myself. I think we had a lot of guys that stepped up and played well in the playoffs, and in the playoffs, you need your best players to perform. We got that out of everyone.”