- James Murphy, Bruins reporter, ESPNBoston.com
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Daugavins, who hasn’t played since Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against Toronto, was skating on a line with Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley at the game-day skate Friday morning. Normal third-line center Chris Kelly was between Shawn Thornton and Daniel Paille. Claude Julien has liked what he has seen from Daugavins and is confident he can come in and help the team as the Bruins try to sweep the Penguins and advance to the Stanley Cup finals.
“He's a gritty player. He's strong on the puck, strong as an individual, he can shoot the puck; got a lot of qualities,” Julien said of Daugavins, who has a goal and three assists in eight games with the Bruins. “We've always said we've got depth on this team. We showed it when injuries crept up on defense. Now we've got an injury up front. He's going to have to step in and do his job.”
Daugavins admitted some nervous anxiety Friday since he hasn’t played in more than a month, but he plans to draw on the experience he gained when he helped the Binghamton Senators win the Calder Cup in 2011 with 20 points in 23 playoff games.
“That was my first playoff experience in pro hockey and we won the whole thing and I learned from that,” Daugavins said Friday. “I can compare myself now to that because last year I only played one game in the playoffs so I can’t compare much there. But I learned from Binghamton and how you have to battle and grind it out. In regular season maybe you make some 50/50 plays, but now in playoffs you know you gotta make smarter decisions with the puck and step up your game.”
Following the team’s optional skate Thursday, Daugavins said he sees similarities between the Calder Cup-winning team he was on and the Bruins.
“This team reminds me a lot of three years ago when I played in the Calder Cup and we won it,” he said. “We were so close to each other and we knew we always had our backs. We are confident because of that. And we’re also having fun every day. That’s what makes us push through being tired. We’re having fun and love playing for each other. Working hard and having fun, and that’s what it’s about.”
The Latvian-born forward praised the Bruins' organization for creating such an atmosphere and winning attitude.
“This organization, the coaching staff and all the guys, they’re great because you work hard for 60 minutes and you know you get rewarded with some rest,” Daugavins said. “That’s rewarding, and because of that, you focus on little things and work harder. And with their system, you’re not nervous because we always have each other’s backs and we’re there for each other. If you do make a mistake, there’s always someone there and you can just move on and not worry and be better. We’re all in it together and on same page, so that helps a lot.”
Now he has his chance to really be part of that system and make an impact when it really counts, and he couldn’t be more excited.
“It’s going to be exciting to play again,” Daugavins said. “It’s been a while, it’s been a month since I played, and obviously you want to be out there instead of in the press box. As much fun as we get being with the team and everything, we want to be out on the ice and not in the press box. If I get a chance to play, I have to make sure I go hard and focus on little things like getting pucks deep and playing good defense and then creating offense too if I can.”