BOSTON – A loss to the Red Wings tonight at TD Garden would eliminate the Bruins from contention for the final playoff spot in the Atlantic Division.
They would still be eligible for the postseason, but would need help to grab the second wild card spot from the Flyers.
The Bruins know the stakes. And they’re not shying away from them.
“I hope every other hockey player likes [the pressure],” said defenseman Torey Krug. “At some point, you were a kid dreaming about playing in elimination games and things like that.
“I think if you like to shy away from that you’re in the wrong sport and the wrong stage. Hopefully all those guys in the room feel the same way.”
WILMINGTON – For many of the Bruins, their Wednesday evening plans have been set.
They will plop down on the couch and watch some hockey, with one game in particular of great interest: Detroit-Philadelphia at 8 p.m.
The Black & Gold sit tied with the Red Wings for the final playoff spot in the Atlantic Division with 91 points. And with the two teams set for a game of their own on Thursday, much will be on the line.
“I’ll probably watch pretty closely, for sure,” Patrice Bergeron said following Wednesday’s practice at Ristuccia Arena.
“We’re all going to look at our phones or computer, TV, and refresh our pages every five minutes. That’s one of those things where, at the same time, you have to be ready and focused for tomorrow.”
With the game set to have major implications on the standings, the Bruins will be watching not only out of curiosity but also to get familiar with their next opponent.
BOSTON – The Bruins were left pondering the what-ifs on Tuesday night.
What if Zdeno Chara’s point-blank shot late in the second went in? What if Brad Marchand’s breakaway chance earlier that period found the back of the net? What if Jimmy Hayes’s attempt from the slot midway through the third beat Cam Ward? And what if Loui Eriksson’s shootout bid didn’t trickle just wide of the post?
They were all golden chances. But the Bruins had nothing to show for them.
The result was a 2-1 shootout loss to the Carolina Hurricanes at TD Garden in the first of a crucial three-game season-ending stretch that will determine their playoff fate.
Former Boston College standout and Norwood, Mass., native Noah Hanifin tallied the lone goal in the fifth round of the shootout to lift the Hurricanes.
BOSTON – It has been almost two months since Colin Miller last suited up for the Boston Bruins. And during that span, much has changed.
The big club is now sitting outside of the playoff structure, needing a last-minute surge to qualify for the postseason. Miller, meanwhile, feels rejuvenated after a 19-game stint with the Providence Bruins.
His confidence returned, Miller believes he is ready to contribute to the playoff push.
“I think when you’re playing a lot more, you’re playing a lot of minutes, you're looking to get back in the flow of the game. It was good to get down there and good to get my legs back under me,” said Miller, who was recalled from Providence Tuesday morning.
BOSTON – The Bruins know the task that stands in front of them.
Three games remain in the regular season, all at TD Garden. Win all three and they qualify for the postseason.
But for now, the Black & Gold are focusing on one game – not three. Tuesday night’s tilt against the Carolina Hurricanes is the only thing that matters.
“We’ve got a big week ahead of us,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said following Monday morning’s practice at TD Garden.
“All we’ve got to do is win our games and we’re in. Our focus has to be on that and that’s what we’re going to do this week – one game at a time.”
BostonBruins.com – Beads of sweat dripped down from under Chris Kelly’s helmet Tuesday afternoon as he spoke with reporters at the SAP Center in San Jose.
Kelly apologized as he cleared the drops from his eye. But in reality, it was a nice problem to have.
“I’m sweating, so that’s a good thing,” Kelly quipped.
Four months into his recovery from a fractured left femur, suffered against Dallas on Nov. 3, Kelly hit the ice with his teammates for the first time, joining the Bruins for their optional pregame skate ahead of their meeting with the Sharks.
It was a meaningful, albeit small, step in his recovery.
“Every day it gets better,” said Kelly. “Just getting back out there with the guys for an optional morning skate was nice. I think they’re baby steps, but they’re steps. It’s part of the process and it was good to get out there.”
BOSTON – Like any young player, David Pastrnak has had his share of ups and downs during the first two seasons of his career. There have been plenty of learning curves and tweaks to his game.
An injury to his foot earlier this season hindered his ability to continue that development. But since he returned in early January, that process has resumed in earnest.
And on Saturday afternoon, his performance showed just how far he has come.
Pastrnak netted two goals, including the winner late in the second period, to lead the Bruins to a 3-1 victory over the New York Islanders at TD Garden.
“Yeah definitely it helps with my confidence,” said Pastrnak. “I’m just trying to focus on getting better. You know it’s a lot of stuff to improve…I’m still young, I’m learning, and trying to learn from the guys like Krech [David Krejci], Bergy [Patrice Bergeron], you know Loui [Eriksson] and the older guys with much experience.
WILMINGTON – As the calendar creeps toward spring and the weather heats up, so too does the NHL season.
Points are at a premium and every game is crucial to the playoff structure.
The Bruins know that well. They have played six games over the last 10 days and, after a Saturday matinee against the New York Islanders, will head out on the road for a three-game trip on the West Coast.
Add in the fact that the Black & Gold have played four consecutive overtime games and it's clear that the grind of the stretch run is setting in.
“We’ve played a lot of hockey, we’ve played every second night for a long time,” Brett Connolly said following Friday morning’s practice at Ristuccia Arena.
“It’s just a matter of preparing. For us, every team is going through the same thing. Teams are playing a lot of games in not a lot of nights, [we] just have to prepare and obviously try to look after our bodies as much as we can.
“Those overtime games do wear you down a little bit but I don’t think we’re going to use that as an excuse.”
With so many teams battling for playoff positioning, there is an expectation that there will be an uptick in not only the intensity of the games, but also the competitiveness.
BOSTON – The Bruins entered Thursday night’s game with the Carolina Hurricanes riding high. A successful stretch against some of the league’s elite had left the Black & Gold with plenty of momentum as they returned to the TD Garden ice.
But for much of the night, the Bruins struggled to find their legs or the energy that proved to be a hallmark in recent days.
The Bruins managed to twice overcome one-goal deficits, despite those difficulties, but it wasn’t enough as the Black & Gold fell to the Hurricanes, 3-2, in overtime on Phillip Di Giuseppe’s goal just 1:30 into the extra session.
“It’s one of those games that they got the better of us most of the night,” said Patrice Bergeron. “We had some more shots than they did but it wasn’t quality shots and we didn’t get the results. We’re not as happy as we’d like to be.”
Torey Krug acknowledged that the stretch of six games over the last nine days – including four straight overtime contests – may have taken its toll.
“Emotionally you have to make sure there is no let down,” said Krug. "Unfortunately we didn’t start the game with it and if you wait too long you’re going to fall behind like we did.
“You play in these emotional games every single night and it just wears on you and wears on you. We’ll take the experience we had last year from these games and hopefully grow up from it and learn from it and make sure we’re ready to go for Saturday."
BOSTON – Matt Beleskey did not hesitate when asked if he was worried about a let down against the Carolina Hurricanes Thursday night, after two thrilling overtimes victories over Florida and Tampa Bay earlier this week.
“No, not at all,” said the Bruins winger, following this morning’s pregame skate.
The Bruins know that at this time of the year each point is crucial.
“I think we have 14 games left, so every game is huge right now,” said Beleskey. “Coming home, we want to get on a roll at home. We played a couple good games when we left and we want to keep that going.”
The Hurricanes currently sit outside of the playoff picture, but head coach Claude Julien emphasized the need to play with consistency, no matter the opponent or the situation.