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Stanley Cup Final

Neely believes scoring depth remains key for Bruins in Cup Final

Boston executive points to 19 players with goals in playoffs heading into series against Blues

by Matt Kalman / NHL.com Correspondent

BOSTON -- Cam Neely knows that scoring depth is vital for a deep playoff run, and that is being proven again when the Boston Bruins head into Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final against the St. Louis Blues on Monday at TD Garden (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS) with a roster featuring 19 players who have scored at least once this postseason.

Neely played for the Bruins in 1988, when they had 19 goal-scorers in the playoffs and reached the Stanley Cup Final. He was also there in 1990, when they again reached the Cup Final, this time with 17 players scoring goals in the postseason.

 

[RELATED: Complete Bruins vs. Blues series coverage]

 

Although both trips to the Final ended in defeat to the Edmonton Oilers -- in four games in 1988 and five games in 1990 -- those experiences taught the Bruins president something about roster construction.

"You get to be an age after you played, you're retired, and you have these 'what ifs,' and there's no question. We look at the years '88 and '90, more particularly than '88. I thought if we had a little bit more depth we might have had a better chance to win, so those are things that stick with you," Neely said Friday. 

"And then when you get in a position like we're in to craft a lineup, you talk about depth and how do we get that depth."

So far in this postseason, Boston has six goals from third-line center Charlie Coyle, three each from defenseman Matt Grzelcyk and third-line forward Marcus Johansson and two each from fourth-line forwards Sean Kuraly, Joakim Nordstrom and Chris Wagner.

Video: E.J. Hradek, Dan Rosen preview the Stanley Cup Final

That has helped support the less-surprising production from forwards Patrice Bergeron (eight goals), Brad Marchand (seven) and David Pastrnak (seven).

All of which has helped Boston make its third trip to the Cup Final since Neely became Bruins president in 2010. Boston won the Stanley Cup in 2011 against the Vancouver Canucks, then lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in 2013. Each of those teams had 16 players score at least one goal. 

Five players remain from 2011: forwards Bergeron, Marchand and David Krejci, defenseman Zdeno Chara and goalie Tuukka Rask. That core group has been loyal to the Bruins, performed well and earned Neely's admiration.

"Obviously, being around for as many years as I have, you get to know them as people and not just what they do on the ice. It's really a great group of guys," Neely said. "The leadership that they have and how they have mentored a number of players throughout the years has been impressive to me."

Video: Home ice gives Bruins advantage in Stanley Cup Final

Starting with that core, the Bruins have established the type of camaraderie teams that get to compete for the Cup usually develop, and that comes in handy in the face of adversity or the type of challenge a long layoff can present. Neely said it's been a conscious effort to make sure the right character resonates throughout the organization.

"It's been very important to me to make sure we have good-quality people. Not just the players, but the staff, the coaching staff, trainers, our staff in the office," Neely said. "I want to make sure we have good-quality people that care about each other, care about the success for each other. It's not a solo mentality. We're all pulling on the same rope, the same way."

The losses in 1988 and 1990 were Neely's only trips to the Final as player. But he has the chance to add a second Stanley Cup ring as an executive to his collection, a consolation prize he'll gladly accept.

"If you can't win it wearing skates," he said, "it's OK in a suit."

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