BOSTON — When Dennis Seidenberg and Chris Kelly stepped out of the elevators and onto one of the pediatric floors at Mass General Hospital for Children on Wednesday afternoon, the smiles — on the faces of the patients, the parents, the doctors and the nurses — were instantaneous.
Though Seidenberg, Kelly and the rest of the Bruins are finished playing hockey for the 2014-15 season, their presence in the community is still felt, as evidenced by their visit this week. Seidenberg’s wife Becky serves as a co-chair of the hospital’s annual Storybook Ball, and in October 2014, one of the event’s auction items included a visit by Seidenberg and a fellow player to the hospital.
The 2014 Storybook Ball — which celebrated its 15th year of supporting pediatric health this past October — raised more than $1.8 million to support Mass General Hospital for Children’s efforts to enhance family-centered care, as well as pediatric community and global health initiatives. Becky Seidenberg serves as one of four co-chairs of the event.
BostonBruins.com — Almost exactly one year after his coming-out party during the 2014 postseason — when he firmly established himself as a legitimate NHL weapon — this is not how Dougie Hamilton expected the 2014-15 campaign to end.
One year ago, Hamilton had just played a significant role in leading the Bruins to the second round of the postseason. In 12 playoff games, he had two goals — including an overtime game-winner on the road in Detroit in the first round — and five assists for seven points. Coming into this season, he had every intention of keeping the momentum rolling, and through three quarters of the season, he did.
Then, as was a frequent refrain for the 2014-15 Bruins, injury struck and seemed to derail it all — just in time for the final playoff push.
“It’s obviously the time of the year that you want to be playing, and hard to watch and kind of just trying to cheer for the boys and everything,” Hamilton said during Boston’s season-ending media availability earlier this month. “Obviously not the position we want to be in right now, so I think we’re all pretty upset.”
BostonBruins.com — When asked whether this year’s Boston Bruins believed in themselves — whether they had faith that they could be a legitimate playoff contender — David Krejci was adamant.
“[With] 10 games left, I felt that we were going to be in,” Krejci said in mid-April, after the book had closed on the 2014-15 season. “I felt pretty strongly about it. It didn’t really matter if we made it [via] second wild card or third in our division; I felt like if we [got] in, we could be a really dangerous team for anyone, and we can go all the way again.”
But that, of course didn’t happen. On the final day of the regular season, the Bruins were knocked out of postseason contention, and for the first time in eight years, they realized they would be watching the playoffs rather than participating in them.
It was a tough pill for Krejci to swallow — not only the ending, but the course of his 2014-15 season in general.
BOSTON — Charlie Jacobs, CEO of Delaware North’s Boston Holdings, and Boston Bruins President Cam Neely addressed the media at TD Garden on Wednesday afternoon, several hours after announcing that Peter Chiarelli had been relieved of his duties as general manager of the Bruins.
Jacobs said he and Neely, among others, came to their decision on Tuesday at the conclusion of “an ongoing dialogue.” Chiarelli was informed of the decision on Wednesday morning, Jacobs said.
“It was really about, how do we improve our club moving forward?” Jacobs said. “And it’s a task — or, frankly, an audit — that we take every year after the season is over. This season happened to end a lot earlier than many [others] for us, and we’ve been very fortunate in that regard.
“I think Peter had a very good tenure here, when you think about the stretch of playoffs — one, trips to the playoffs, and two, success in the playoffs — that he’s had. But it became time, we believe, to separate and move forward.”
BOSTON — As the Bruins packed up their lockers on Monday afternoon at TD Garden and were asked to pinpoint the reason why they are beginning their summer vacations rather than their playoff preparation, one word came up over and over again:
“We didn’t play consistent hockey, even within the games,” said goaltender Tuukka Rask. “We barely put a 60-minute game together, so that won’t take you too far, obviously. But we battled, and we were really close, but when you can’t find that consistency over the course of 82 games, you have failed as a team. That’s why we’re not in the playoffs.”
The Bruins’ Opening Day win back on Oct. 8, it seems, would epitomize what was to come for this club throughout the 2014-15 season. They scored the opening goal against the Flyers, but despite outshooting Philadelphia 33-20, they couldn’t put another puck in the back of the net — that is, until Chris Kelly got the job done with less than two minutes remaining in regulation.
The Bruins eked out a victory, and for most of the season, those same themes plagued them: too many close calls, too many missed opportunities and an inability to score when they needed it most.
TAMPA — Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien knows there will be no need to issue a fiery pregame speech in Tampa Bay on Saturday night.
He knows what is at stake. The players know what is at stake. At this stage, all they can do is execute, and then hope for the best.
“We know we’re playing against a great team, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter who you’re playing against; it’s what you have to do,” Julien said following Boston’s pregame skate at Amalie Arena on Saturday morning. “You have to get the result. You have to have a win. It’s about winning a hockey game, and you have to be able to go out there and not be tight, and play with energy.
“That’s the challenge for us tonight, is not to be tight and have the energy that you need in order to succeed. If we can accomplish that, I think we’re going to give ourselves a good chance.”
The Bruins could be playing scared on Saturday night in the regular-season finale against the Lightning. They could be playing tight, knowing that their chances of extending the season further are nil if they fail to get two points.
SUNRISE — Now, with their backs pushed as far against the wall as they have been all season, the Bruins’ fate is out of their hands.
Now, they need help; they didn’t want to be in this situation, but back-to-back losses to Washington and Florida have cost them. Now, they are out of a playoff spot with just one game left to play, and it is going to take a win, coupled with someone else’s loss, in order to continue the 2014-15 season into next week.
“It’s tough,” said forward Chris Kelly following a 4-2 loss to the Panthers at BB&T Center on Thursday night. “We’re a proud group that’s always wanted to do things on our own, and now we’re looking for help.
“I think we’re good enough. Obviously, we’re here battling for a playoff spot; a lot of teams have been eliminated. I think we’ve got a talented group in here, and it’s unfortunate that we’re not getting the results that we’re used to.”
SUNRISE — Brad Marchand said the Bruins’ job is simple if they want to take care of business on Thursday night against the Panthers.
Just play the way they are supposed to play.
“It seems like when we play simple and physical and we play tight, then we’re a really good team,” he said at BB&T arena on Thursday afternoon. “When we start getting stretched out and we’re missing little assignments, then mistakes can cost you goals, and ultimately games.
“So I think we’ve all got to make sure we’re really focused on playing our part, not doing anyone else’s job, and believing in each other.”
And that is something the Bruins still have — belief in each other, in the system, in this team.
“We do have the team — we’ve seen it in there throughout the season,” said defenseman Dennis Seidenberg. “But tonight is a night we have to bring it, and be focused and play for 60 minutes.”
SUNRISE — The message was simple following one of the Bruins’ most disappointing, most critical losses of the season.
Move on. Forget about it and move on.
“Right now, we have less than 24 hours to get ready for the next [game],” said forward David Krejci after a 3-0 loss to the Capitals on Wednesday night at the Verizon Center. “It's going to be the biggest game of the season. We're still controlling our own fate, so just forget about this one. Move on.”
The disappointment was obvious following Wednesday’s game. The Bruins entered the matchup knowing that they had a massive opportunity in front of them — win, and force the team chasing them in the standings to do the same in order to remain in the playoff hunt — but they squandered the opportunity.
WASHINGTON — The Bruins weren’t in action on Tuesday night, but as they settled in in Washington to prepare for Wednesday night’s matchup against the Capitals, they were just as tuned in as ever to what was going on around the league.
They pretty much had to be. Given that Detroit, Pittsburgh and Ottawa were all in game action — and given that Boston entered Tuesday night neck-and-neck with all of those teams for just three playoff spots — they couldn’t help but check in on the scores every once in a while.
“I watched a couple of periods [of the Ottawa game], yeah,” Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien said with a smile. “Had to go back to the hotel because it’s important to get our rest, too, but that third period wasn’t what I expected. At the same time, I continue to say the same thing: We control our own destiny.
“It’s up to us to do our jobs, and if we do our jobs, we’ll be fine.”