Cup dreams can mask a lot of pain

June, 14, 2013
6/14/13
9:29
PM ET
CHICAGO -- When the Stanley Cup is on the line, hockey players' threshold for pain is indescribable.

Case in point: When Boston Bruins forward Gregory Campbell broke his right fibula while blocking a slap shot in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Pittsburgh Penguins, he remained on the ice for nearly a minute and continued to play.

Some hockey outsiders may think that's an extreme case of heroism by a professional athlete, but during the Stanley Cup playoffs that desire to win helps desensitize any pain a player is feeling.

[+] EnlargeNathan Horton
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesNathan Horton is trying to play despite an upper-body injury.
At this time of the season, players are dealing with more than your normal bumps and bruises. Players compete with broken bones, ligament tears, shoulder separations and many other major injuries during the playoffs.

"You just have to look at teams that have been eliminated. As soon as they're eliminated you hear all about the injuries. It's a very common thing in our sport," said Bruins coach Claude Julien. "Especially at this time of year, nobody wants to be left out, or pushed out of the lineup. When you look at the Stanley Cup and what it means to you, there's no doubt you don't want to be denied that opportunity. Players are tough in this sport; they'll play through a lot. There are some on both teams right now and you'll find out more when the series is over."

Currently, the Bruins' Nathan Horton is listed as day to day with an upper-body injury and is questionable for Game 2 Saturday of the Cup finals against the Chicago Blackhawks. It's been reported that he's been dealing with a shoulder injury ever since his April 20 fight against the Penguins' Jarome Iginla. If that's the case, especially given his offensive output this spring, Horton's a tough player.

"It's a part of the playoffs," Lucic said. "Every team goes through it and they have guys playing through pain. I remember two years ago guys playing through pain as well. It's a part of the playoffs and it goes to show guys will do anything to win."

Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg missed the first four games of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the New York Rangers with a serious lower-body injury but he was able to return.

"It is pretty tough," Seidenberg said in general terms about playing hurt. "You try to forget about it and focus on your game but sometimes you feel you're not as strong as you'd like and that sometimes it's tough to play your game or be focused on the task at hand, so it's always a fine line to walk and a lot of guys here are banged up, on the other side as well. It's not a big deal."

When the season is finally over, and whether or not the Bruins win the Cup, the injury report will likely be lengthy for both Boston and Chicago.

The slogan fits: Because it's the Cup.

"You expect it," said Bruins forward Shawn Thornton. "If there's any way you can go, you go this time of year. Everyone in this room is built the same way, and I'm sure it's no different on any other hockey team. It's the Stanley Cup finals."

Joe McDonald

Reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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