BostonBruins.com - Many view it as a crutch. Some view it as a bad omen. Others few view it as a foreshadowing of good things to come.
On April 12, the Bruins clinched the Presidents' Trophy as the best regular season team. They finished with 54 wins, tied for second most in franchise history. For the first time since 1939-40, they never went more than two games without a win.
Since the award's inception in 1985-86, eight teams who have claimed it went on to win the Cup.
This "trophy" could place added pressure on the Bruins, as they head into the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and face a first round series against the Detroit Red Wings who bring pedigree, Original Six tradition and resiliency to the matchup.
But the reality is, the Black & Gold have been faced with this pressure, and these high expectations, for a while. That escalated in 2011, and hit a pulse in 2013.
"It's the same type of pressure that we've had the last three years," said Milan Lucic. "I think there was pressure even to start this season, just making the Stanley Cup Final out of the East two out of the last three years."
Their consistency and ability to bounce back after any lapses throughout the season further proved that. Their 6-1 loss to Detroit on the eve of the Thanksgiving, and their bounce-back mentality in the aftermath, was one of those moments.
"It seems like obviously we were able to deal with that pressure real well and by going into these playoffs," Lucic said. "You just want to just remain focused and do what you need to do in order to help your team win."
WILMINGTON, MA - As the Bruins wrapped up practice at Ristuccia Arena on Wednesday, only two days remain before Game 1 kicks off against Detroit on Friday night at TD Garden.
The late Friday start gives both sides an opportunity to rest, stay sharp and study the opposing team - while the rest of the teams in the Stanley Cup Playoffs begin their series on Wednesday and Thursday.
"I think there's no control over it, so you just have to take it as a positive and just go along with it and try to get ready," Patrice Bergeron said following Wednesday's skate. "Obviously, the coaches have done a great job at getting us ready in the practices and also in the videos, to make sure we know the tendencies of the Red Wings, and just go with it, and be ready for Friday."
Tuukka Rask was also opting to view the extra days as a positive.
"I don't think it's going to hurt. You know, good to get a couple days of practices in, and then be ready to play," said the netminder. "It's important to get that good start, and then just keep the train rolling, so that's what we're looking forward to."
BOSTON, MA - The Bruins weren't born and bred in Boston. They come from different cities, and different countries, from far away, and from a few states over. But the second they put on the Spoked-B, they know what it stands for, and who they represent.
Captain Zdeno Chara didn't get to call Boston home until he first slipped on the Black & Gold. Now, he can't imagine being anywhere else.
On the morning of April 15, 2014, the Boston Globe published a front page that featured nearly 200 Bostonians representing the city, and its year of hurt and healing following the tragic events at the Boston Marathon - survivors, police, firefighters, EMTs, doctors, nurses, runners, political figures, store owners, and members of the Red Sox and Bruins.
"I'm not born and raised in Boston, but I feel like I'm part of the city. I've been here long enough to feel part of it," said Chara. "And I'm always going to call myself a Bostonian."
BOSTON, MA - With the regular season wrapped up, the Bruins have now shifted to preparing for their first round series against the Detroit Red Wings, which kicks off with Game 1 on Friday, April 18 at TD Garden.
The first step in that process, was a day off on Monday for the team.
During the off day, General Manager Peter Chiarelli addressed reporters Monday during a press conference at TD Garden.
Boston finished the season 54-19-9 with their 54 wins tied for the second most in franchise history. In doing so, they earned 117 points to take home the Presidents' Trophy as the top team in the League after the regular season.
The Bruins enter the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs with their seventh straight postseason appearance, having reached the Final in two of their past three seasons. This core group, in short, has been through a lot.
"Well, it’s all about experience and these guys - I don’t know what our average age is - but there is a group of five, six, maybe eight players that are all in that kind of 26 to 29 range that are really key core players, maybe even 25 to 29," said Chiarelli.
BostonBruins.com - On April 13, 2006, Patrice Bergeron became the youngest Bruin in franchise history to record a 30-goal season.
He was 20 years and 262 days old. He potted his 30th and 31st goals that day against the Montreal Canadiens in the final home game at TD Garden, and the second to last game of the season.
But, of course, the magnitude of the milestone was unbeknownst to Bergeron at the time, until someone informed him.
"I didn't know about that," Bergeron had said, after becoming the youngest to reach the milestone in his second full NHL season. "It's flattering because of all the great players that have played in Boston."
"At the same time, I'm not thinking about that. It's about the team, not about me. Obviously, it's flattering, but I am looking forward for next season now."
Boston missed the postseason that year. After having suited up in a seven-game series against Montreal in 2003-04, Bergeron wouldn't find himself back in the Stanley Cup Playoffs until 2009 under Head Coach Claude Julien.
Much has changed around the organization since then. Bergeron is the only Bruin from the 2005-06 team who remains in Black & Gold. The 2013-14 version just finished atop the League before heading into the postseason.
BOSTON, MA - The Bruins earned a 4-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres in their final home of the regular season at TD Garden on Saturday. The two points also earned them the Presidents' Trophy for the best record in the NHL this season, no matter the outcome of game No. 82 on Sunday against the New Jersey Devils.
As Boston hit the road for New Jersey, though, they could be without Daniel Paille.
At the 7:17 mark of the third period, Paille was leveled at the blueline, and fell hard to the ice. He was assisted off the ice and down the tunnel.
"With Piesy, I haven’t had a chance to talk yet to my trainers or to the doctors, so I’ll probably see later on here," Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien said postgame.
The Bruins also finished the game without Patrice Bergeron, who did not return for the third period. "It's very minor," Julien said of Bergeron's status.
There will likely be more clarity on Paille's status come Sunday.
WINNIPEG - Just two games remain now for the Black & Gold, before they hit reset for the 2014 postseason.
Their latest game, a 2-1 shootout loss to the Winnipeg Jets at the MTS Centre on Thursday night, marked their second straight loss in such fashion, after falling to the Minnesota Wild 4-3 in the shootout on Tuesday.
"If we were getting ready for the playoffs, we’d play a lot better than that. We looked like a disinterested team tonight, and [the Jets] were determined to have a good strong finish here and they did," Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien said postgame.
"They were the better team tonight from start to finish and I thought our goaltender was the reason we were able to come out of here with at least a point."
Brad Marchand put the Bruins up 1-0 off their second shot of the game, at 10:12 into the first period, for his 24th on the season. Winnipeg led shots 12-6 after the first period, but Boston held the 1-0 lead.
That score stuck until 1:05 left in regulation, when Evander Kane broke through Chad Johnson on the Jets' 35th shot of the night, amidst a third period trending in the their favor.
Johnson had made 14 previous stops in the final frame, in which the Jets outshot Boston 15-10. At the other end, former Bruins prospect Michael Hutchinson stood strong for Winnipeg. Bryan Little eventually scored the winner in the shootout.
WINNIPEG - The Bruins held an optional pregame skate at the MTS Centre on Thursday, as they prepared to face the Jets with just three games left in the regular season.
Chris Kelly was not on the ice for the skate, and remains day-to-day.
"He’s obviously a little stiff there - it’s a back injury - and like I said, it’s day to day because a lot of those things are muscle spasms," said Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien. "So we’re just taking it easy there with him. He definitely wouldn’t be able to play today and that can change quickly there if things go the way they should."
"From what I’ve been told, very optimistic about him being ready for the playoffs."
Patrice Bergeron also did not participate in the optional skate. When asked if Thursday night was Bergeron's chance to rest, after David Krejci got the night off on Tuesday in Minnesota, Julien responded, "That’s a good question eh?"
"I haven’t decided that one yet," he went on. "We’ll see - we’re going to make some lineup changes tonight obviously, so right now, I’m going to keep that to myself."
On Wednesday, Julien had deemed Jarome Iginla and Kevan Miller gameday decisions, after they both practiced with the team for the first time since sitting out the Bruins' past two games against Philadelphia and Minnesota with minor, day-to-day, maintenance situations. They also took part in the optional skate on Thursday.
WINNIPEG - The Bruins traveled from Minnesota to Winnipeg on Wednesday and hit the ice at the MTS Centre for a practice, in advance of their game against the Jets on Thursday night.
Jarome Iginla and Kevan Miller both joined the team for practice for the first time since missing the past two games against Philadelphia and Minnesota with what had been deemed as minor, day-to-day situations that they could have played through, had it been the postseason.
Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien said following the team's skate that he would make any lineup decisions regarding Iginla and Miller on Thursday.
"They skated for the first time here with the team today [on Wednesday]," said Julien. "We've got to see how they are tomorrow and I get to make that decision afterwards."
"I felt good today," Iginla said following Wednesday's skate. "I don’t know for sure anything, but felt good and it’s coming along well and I look forward to getting back in whenever that is."
"It was just something minor," said Miller of his own situation. "We’re just trying to maintain and like Claude said, if it was playoffs, it would be a different story. So just trying to be careful with it."
BostonBruins.com - Two years and nearly nine months have passed since Dougie Hamilton heard his name called at Xcel Energy Center.
On that day - June 24, 2011 - he was a 6-foot-4, 193-pound defenseman, who had spent two seasons playing for the Niagara IceDogs in the Ontario Hockey League.
When he arrived to the 2011 NHL Entry Draft in St. Paul, Minnesota, he didn't yet know where his path to the NHL would officially begin. When the ninth pick came around, he finally knew that path would be in Black & Gold.
Now, in his second NHL season with the Bruins, Hamilton found himself back at the Xcel Energy Center on the morning of March 8, 2014, for the first time since that day.
In St. Paul to face the Minnesota Wild amidst the team's final push to the postseason, Hamilton went through his gameday routine, hitting the ice for pregame skate with his teammates and then taking a seat in his stall in the visiting team locker room.
"It’s pretty cool," said Hamilton, taking a look around the room. "I think I'm just trying to piece it together, it’s a little bit different with ice out there and everything, but I remember taking some pictures in this room."