BOSTON — The Bruins have faced a series of must-win games over the last week.
They have talked ad naseum about desperation, about channeling frustration into positive energy, about treating every game from here on out like it’s Game 7.
In their last game, the Bruins were almost there. They almost got the result they wanted, only to lose it with less than a minute remaining.
On Saturday, though — against a team that entered the contest toting the NHL’s best record — all of the pieces finally came together, and the Bruins earned a 4-2 win over the Rangers at TD Garden.
BOSTON — The Bruins have eight games remaining this season. They are currently tied with the Ottawa Senators for the final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference, though the Senators do have a game in hand.
But for now, the Bruins have to forget about that. They have no other choice. They have to forget about what the Senators are doing, they have to forget about Thursday night’s gut-punch of an overtime loss to the Ducks, and they simply have to move on.
There is no other option if they want to be a part of the dance when it begins in just over two weeks.
“I think it’s playoffs for us right now,” said defenseman Torey Krug following Friday’s brief practice at TD Garden. “When you lose a game of a playoff series, you put it behind you, you learn from it and try to make adjustments, and then you move forward because if you dwell on what happened in the last game, you fall behind in the series.
“It’s kind of the way we’re approaching things, is we’re going to put it behind us and move on to the next one.”
SUNRISE — It was a game that certainly lived up to its billing.
Nobody expected the Bruins’ job to be easy on Saturday night. Nobody expected it to be easy for either side, and it wasn’t. Boston and Florida came into the game separated by a mere five points in the Eastern Conference standings, and both of them knew Saturday night’s matchup was a must-win if they each wanted to keep their playoff aspirations alive.
In the end, the Panthers came out with two points and the Bruins got just one as they fell 2-1 in a shootout.
“I think that we can be satisfied with the effort,” said defenseman Zdeno Chara. “Everybody showed really good efforts throughout the whole game. It was a really close, tight-checking game on both sides. Sometimes, you’re going to have those games where it’s going to be 1-1, 2-2, and it’s going to be whoever’s going to score that last goal, and then defend it or it goes all the way to the shootouts or overtimes.
“Those are the kind of games that you always have to put a lot of emphasis on playing tight defensively.”
SUNRISE — After David Krejci got off the ice following Saturday’s morning skate in Sunrise, he felt good — but he still wasn’t willing to guess whether or not he’d be in the lineup for that night’s critical matchup against the Panthers.
“Today, I made another step forward,” he said. “[I] did some battle drills, so I’ll talk to the trainers, and we’ll see.”
Friday marked the four-week anniversary of the game in which Krejci partially tore his MCL. At the time, he was projected to miss 4-6 weeks, but at the beginning of this week, Head Coach Claude Julien said that Krejci would accompany the team on its three-game swing through Ottawa, Florida and Tampa Bay in the hopes that he would be able to return to the lineup at some point.
Following Friday’s practice, Julien said Krejci was still a possibility to return on Saturday night. Following Saturday’s morning skate, he reiterated it again.
“He’s day-to-day,” Julien said. “I think there’s a discussion that has to take place from here on in. As we speak, there is no decision made yet.
“I think the most important thing is, is the player ready? I don’t think we’re in a position right now to kind of sugarcoat that. So if he’s ready, we’d love to have him back, obviously. If he’s not, then we can’t play him him. Simple as that.”
OTTAWA — A little over a week ago, the Ottawa Senators looked at a March 10 matchup against the Boston Bruins as their biggest game of the season.
One week later, the case remains exactly the same.
“This time of year is pretty exciting for fans, obviously — it’s exciting for teams, too, and players, to have the opportunities to play those games,” said Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien following his team’s optional morning skate in Ottawa on Thursday morning. “It’s not just about the playoffs; it’s about getting there, and you’ve got two teams right now that are fighting for one of those spots, and tonight means obviously a lot to both.”
Things can change in the span of the week. Heading into that game, the Senators were looking for a win that would keep them in the thick of the playoff race, and the Bruins were looking to keep the postseason out of reach for Ottawa.
BostonBruins.com — In each of the last seven years that the Boston Bruins have held Cuts for a Cause, it has always been a special event.
This year, however, it will be even more special: For the first time, every single member of the Black & Gold will be shaving his head in the name of raising money for Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center and the Boston Bruins Foundation.
“It’s great — I’m really excited about it,” said Patrice Bergeron, who will be hosting the event this year for the first time. “I think it’s really something that speaks a lot to all of the guys, and all of the guys want to give back. It’s definitely something easy for us to shave our heads.
“It took a little bit of negotiating with some of the guys,” he added with a laugh, “but that being said, everyone’s really nice to do it and participate and raise some money for a great cause.”
BOSTON — The Bruins fully understand the situation they find themselves in. They have been fully aware of it for a while — for months.
Nothing was different on Tuesday night. They knew that they were going to be facing a battle, despite the fact that the Buffalo Sabres’ position in the standings might have suggested otherwise. They knew that Tuesday’s game, like all of the others, would prove crucial because at this point in the season — no matter the opponent — every game, and every point, is crucial.
“It’s a tough one to lose, especially when Ottawa won today and the teams behind us are chasing us,” said forward Loui Eriksson following a 2-1 shootout loss to the Sabres. “Every point is huge, and that’s a tough one to lose.
“I thought we had a lot of chances today to score more goals and win the game. We need to find ways to score those goals, too. We create a lot of chances, but when we get that chance, we have to really focus to put it in, too. That cost us the game. I thought we were the much better team today, and we just need to get better on that.”
PITTSBURGH — After the trade deadline, the Bruins took a long look at themselves in the mirror. They looked at the players they had in their dressing room, they looked at the schedule ahead, and they knew they had no choice but to win — no matter how difficult the docket, or how strong the opponents — if they wanted to make the playoffs.
Just two weeks later, after going 5-0-1, the Bruins find themselves not only in line for a postseason berth but tied for seventh place in the Eastern Conference with Washington.
“I think we believe in ourselves right now,” said center Patrice Bergeron following a 2-0 victory over Pittsburgh at Consol Energy Center on Saturday afternoon. “Since the trade deadline, I think it put a lot of guys at ease, kind of realizing that this is our team. The management — from up to Peter [Chiarelli] to Cam [Neely] and everyone down — they all believe in us, and we have to show them that we can do it.
“It’s about doing it every night. Right now, we all need to be leaders and step up and play big.”
BOSTON — Since March began, the Bruins have been intent on changing their fate.
When March began, they were clinging to a playoff spot, and they weren’t clinging by much. It was reminiscent of the team’s position to start the month of January, when they knew that something had to change — something big — if they wanted the 2015 postseason to be a reality, not just a dream.
And so, just like they did in January — when it was gut-check time — the Bruins have showed their guts once again. After reeling off pivotal wins against Philadelphia, Detroit and Ottawa — and with a shootout standing in between them and a fourth straight win over Tampa Bay — the Bruins kept right on changing their fate, earning a 3-2 shootout win over the Lightning on Thursday night at TD Garden.
OTTAWA — On Tuesday morning, Tuukka Rask asked for one thing for his 28th birthday — or two, actually.
He asked for two points. And on Tuesday night, when all was said and done, he got them. It wasn’t always pretty, and it wasn’t easy, but he and the Bruins departed Ottawa with a 3-1 win that set the Senators seven points behind in the standings. And that, above all, was exactly what they needed to do.
“I think after the second period, I even mentioned it — I said, ‘You’re up 3-0, you can thank your goaltender,’” said Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien. “It wasn’t for Tuukka, could’ve been a different outcome. But having said that, we won a big game. They don’t always have to be pretty at this point, but they have to be successful, and I think that’s the most important thing.”