BOSTON — In the Bruins’ locker room, they were still holding out hope — whatever ounce of it was left.
“Obviously we put ourselves in the worst position possible, but hopefully it works out for us,” Brad Marchand lamented on Saturday afternoon, following his team’s 6-1 loss to Ottawa at TD Garden.
At that point, the Philadelphia Flyers were still playing the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“Right now all we can do is cross our fingers and almost hope for a miracle, that’s all that’s left for us, so it's totally out of our hands now,” said Head Coach Claude Julien.
For the first time all season, after Game 82, the Bruins no longer had control. Their playoff hopes were in the Flyers’ hands — and the Flyers didn’t hold on all too tight. With a 3-1 win over the Pens, they dashed any chance Boston had at redemption.
Had Philadelphia lost in regulation, or even garnered just a point, the Bruins would have held out hope for one more day, until Philadelphia’s final game on Sunday night.
Instead, the Bruins now find themselves out of the postseason for the second straight year.
“There’s no excuse for that,” David Krejci said following the game. “We are professionals and we should get up for every single game, no matter what kind of game it is in the season — Game 1 or Game 82, we should get up the same way for every single game.”
CHICAGO, Ill. — The Bruins still control their playoff situation, with just three games left in the regular season.
That’s the focus now for the Black & Gold, who were heading home after a 6-4 loss in Chicago on Sunday afternoon.
“Win our last three games, and we’re in the playoffs,” Torey Krug said postgame from the United Center. “We know that. We know what’s at stake. You’ve got to take them one game at a time.”
“I think last year, we got caught up looking a little bit too far ahead of ourselves, but it’s a different story this year. We’re going to take it one game at a time, learn from everything that’s happened so far.”
The Bruins will next host the Carolina Hurricanes, Detroit Red Wings and Ottawa Senators at TD Garden on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. If they win all three, no matter what Detroit does in its other two games, they’re through to the postseason.
The Red Wings sit one point above them in the standings (91 to the Bruins’ 90). They host the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday night in an 8:00 p.m. matchup, before playing in Boston the next night, and then finishing the season in New York against the Rangers on Saturday.
For the Black & Gold, it still comes down to taking care of their own business.
CHICAGO, Ill. — The Bruins face another tough test on Sunday, when they close out their two-game road trip against the Blackhawks.
Game time is set for 11:30 a.m. local time on NBC (12:30 ET).
“A big game, we’ve known that coming into it,” said Torey Krug. “These games down the stretch mean a lot obviously and it’s a good test for us. I think we’re ready for a big matchup, and hopefully we respond.”
The Bruins hit the ice for practice on Saturday afternoon at Johnny’s IceHouse in Chicago, after arriving late Friday night from St. Louis.
With their 6-5 win over the Blues on Friday, the Bruins managed to stay third in the Atlantic Division at 90 points.
Detroit picked up a 3-2 win over the Minnesota Wild to stay one point back of the Bruins. The Red Wings are right back in action on Saturday night in Toronto against the Maple Leafs.
ST. LOUIS — By the time the puck had dropped in St. Louis on Friday night, the Bruins were tired of answering questions — about their desperation, their commitment, their missed chances and inability to finish.
They entered the night 1-6-0 in their past seven games. The Blues were coming in on a five-game win streak, during which they had collectively allowed just one goal. They also had run going of 11 wins in 13 games. Brian Elliott had won straight nine straight game between the pipes for St. Louis.
The task seemed daunting, but the Bruins were up for it — until the final buzzer.
At the end of 60 minutes, they had earned themselves a 6-5 win over the Blues, and a huge two points. With the victory, they stayed third in the Atlantic Division, one point ahead of the Red Wings, who earned a 3-2 win over the Wild.
Patrice Bergeron fired in the game-winner late in the third on the power play to reach his third 30-goal season.
“I’m happy I was able to to get it, but at the same time, was definitely more happy to get that extra goal and ultimately it ended up being the extra goal that we needed,” Bergeron said postgame. “So I was happy for that.”
Seidenberg and Connolly missed their second straight practice on Thursday with undisclosed situations when the Bruins convened at Ristuccia Arena. Connolly did not play during the final two periods in New Jersey on Tuesday night.
Spooner and Krejci rejoined the group on Thursday after being absent from Wednesday’s practice.
“Obviously you like to be 100 percent in games, and that’s what we’re trying to do here,” Krejci said. “So, felt really good today and ready to go for [Friday].
The Bruins’ two-game road trip will have them facing the Blues on Friday night in St. Louis, and then the Blackhawks on Sunday in Chicago.
NEWARK, N.J. — The chances were aplenty for the Bruins on Tuesday night at the Prudential Center.
They threw 64 shots towards New Jersey’s net, with 40 hitting the mark. Only one shot found its way by netminder Keith Kinkaid.
Despite outshooting the Devils 40-15, the Bruins fell 2-1 in a game where they desperately needed the points.
“It’s disappointing, frustrating, whatever word you want to use,” said Head Coach Claude Julien. “We could have put that game away in the first period with the outnumbered situations we had, I think we had three 2-on-1’s, we had a breakaway, we had a power play. Nothing to show for it.”
“So, you know, you can look at it whichever way you want, but you’ve got to look at yourselves and blame yourselves for this loss. You can say you tried, but at this time of year, it’s not good enough.”
“The situation that we’re in, we expect better from ourselves,” Julien continued. “So, certainly not pleased with this outcome, and there’s a lot of things that can look encouraging — the number of shots given and the number of shots taken — but at the end of the night, it’s the win that counts, and we didn’t get that.”
NEWARK, N.J. — The countdown to the end of the regular season continues as the Bruins face the Devils in New Jersey on Tuesday night.
Game time is set for 7:00 p.m. ET (NESN, 98.5 The Sports Hub).
The message engrained in the Bruins down the stretch has been that they control their own destiny.
“We put ourselves in a good position,” said Lee Stempniak. “It came down to eight, seven, now six games left to the playoffs.”
“At the beginning of the year, if you could play six games or seven games and have to win those to get into the playoffs, you’d take that.”
Since being acquired from the Devils at the trade deadline, Stempniak has been part of this team’s final push, which included a 3-1 win in Toronto on Saturday night that snapped their five-game losing streak.
The team gathered for practice at Ristuccia Arena in the morning after a day off on Sunday that came following their 3-1 win in Toronto on Saturday.
Neither Spooner, nor Liles, were present for the skate.
Spooner left Saturday’s game with an undisclosed injury and did not play in the third period.
“He’s not making the trip,” said Head Coach Claude Julien. “So I’m going to label him as day-to-day right now, but not making the trip. Neither is [John-Michael] Liles. Liles skated today, is getting better, but those two guys won’t be making the trip.”
Liles missed the Bruins’ game against Toronto with a lower-body injury. He sustained the injury last Thursday against the Florida Panthers.
TORONTO, Ont. — Though the Bruins had been trying to keep it light heading into Saturday night’s matchup with the Maple Leafs, they no doubt felt weighed down.
Their last victory had come two weeks prior, with five losses in between.
Patrice Bergeron helped lift that weight with a tying goal on the power play in the second period. Zdeno Chara followed suit three and a half minutes later, and Matt Beleskey gave relief to his teammates when he powered home the empty-netter in the final minute for the 3-1 win at Air Canada Centre.
“We knew it was going to turn around eventually, but it had to be quickly,” Bergeron said postgame from Toronto on Saturday night. “And we’re happy it was today.”
“We were playing the way we want to play, and I think it was about just believing in ourselves a lot more and trusting our instincts.”
Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien had a sense on Saturday morning that his leaders would come to play, and lead the way. In addition to Bergeron’s and Chara’s goals, David Krejci picked up two assists. Beleskey assisted on Bergeron’s power-play tally before scoring his empty-net goal.
TORONTO, Ont. — The Bruins have a simple objective on Saturday night as they face the Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre: get back in the win column.
Yes, playing the right way, to their strengths, will likely breed success — but no matter how it is done, the Bruins need to find a way to get results.
“I think it’s to keep plugging at it, and really having confidence to get results — and going out there and making plays,” Patrice Bergeron said following the team’s pregame skate on Saturday morning.
“Bottom line is making sure we play our game, we stay confident, we realize, yeah, the standings are tight, but we’re still in a playoff spot and it’s in our hands and we have to take it a game at a time.”
After Friday’s action, Tampa Bay moved into first place in the Atlantic Division with a 7-4 win over the New York Islanders. The Bruins remain in third place in the division.
Veterans like Bergeron will help keep the group focused — not on the big picture and the standings and the pressure, but just on playing a solid game that’s worthy of two points.