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.
BostonBruins.com – The Bruins were in good spirits Wednesday morning, following their 2-1 win over Calgary the night before.
But it wasn’t just the victory that had them smiling. Prior to practice at Ristuccia Arena, several Bruins were named to their respective countries’ rosters for next fall’s World Cup of Hockey in Toronto.
Prior to practice, forwards David Krejci and David Pastrnak were chosen to represent the Czech Republic, while goalie Tuukka Rask was selected to represent Finland. The 2016 World Cup of Hockey, which will feature eight teams from around the globe, will be played from Sept. 17-Oct. 1 at the Air Canada Centre.
Later Wednesday afternoon, center Patrice Bergeron was selected to Team Canada, winger Loui Eriksson was selected to Team Sweden, and defensemen Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg were chosen to play for Team Europe, bringing the number of Bruins representatives in the event to seven.
BOSTON – Don Sweeney acknowledged his first NHL trade deadline as General Manager of the Boston Bruins was a bit of a roller coaster.
There were countless conversations about what may or may not take place. But ultimately Sweeney orchestrated two trades shortly before Monday's 3 p.m. deadline, acquiring forward Lee Stempniak from New Jersey and defenseman John-Michael Liles from Carolina.
“They’re both excited about joining the Boston Bruins and the opportunity to get this team back into the playoffs and move forward,” said Sweeney, who expected both players to be available for Tuesday night’s game against Calgary.
BOSTON, MA – Nathan Horton has been a Boston Bruin for three seasons and twice has been to the Stanley Cup Final.
The power forward becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 5, and though he says it's out of his hands, Horton wants to stay in Boston - and his General Manager, Peter Chairelli, wants him to as well.
“I hope so,” said Chiarelli, during his season-ending press conference on Wednesday. “I’ve told him that I’d like him to come back. We’ll see how it goes.”
Horton's time with Boston came after six seasons with the Florida Panthers, in which he did not make any playoff appearances.
Horton, however, quickly showed that he was primed for the bright lights of the Stanley Cup playoffs upon his arrival in Boston prior to the 2010-11 season. He tallied eight goals and nine assists in 21 games during the Bruins’ championship run two years ago, scoring overtime winners in Games Five and Seven against Montreal in the first round, and the winner in Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
BostonBruins.com – The Bruins have been in this position before. Two years ago, they returned to TD Garden for Game Six of the Stanley Cup Final, trailing the Vancouver Canucks, three games to two. The Black & Gold came out firing in that game and took down the Canucks, 5-2, forcing a seventh game back in Vancouver, in which they won, 4-0, to take home their first Stanley Cup in 39 years.
Tonight, the Bruins will be trying to conjure up some of that magic once again and force a seventh game at United Center in Chicago on Wednesday night.
“We could all take some experience from that and realize that, to win this game, we’ve got to make sure we leave everything on the ice, we play our best," said Brad Marchand, who scored en route to the Game Six win in 2011. "That’s what we did last time so hopefully we can do the same tomorrow."
“It’s a different team, different situation but we’ve been here before. I think we have a bit of confidence but, at the same time, they’re a very resilient team. They’ve played great so far. They played good last time they were in our building so we’ve got to make sure we realize that and we don’t take it for granted.”
BostonBruins.com – The Stanley Cup will be at TD Garden on Monday night. But the Bruins will have to prevent it from being handed out to the Chicago Blackhawks on their home ice. The Black & Gold suffered their second consecutive loss of the Stanley Cup Final on Saturday night, a 3-1 defeat to the Blackhawks in Game Five at the United Center.
The Bruins made a strong push in the first half of the third period, cutting the Blackhawks lead to 2-1 on a bomb from Zdeno Chara, but it wasn’t enough. Patrick Kane scored two goals to lead Chicago and Dave Bolland added an empty-netter with 14 seconds remaining to seal the game.
Things were made tougher for the Bruins when they lost Patrice Bergeron early in the second period. The B’s alternate captain played just two shifts in the middle frame and did not return at the start of the third period. He was later transported to a local hospital for observation.
After the game, B’s Head Coach Claude Julien had no information on Bergeron’s condition.
“I remember my first training camp my first year a couple years ago,” Seguin recalled. “When I walked in at probably a buck-80 [180 pounds], I could do pull-ups like nothing because I was so light, probably 25 [of them]. I thought I was the best on the team.
“Then Zee [Zdeno Chara] came up and, who knows how much he weighs – two-something. He went up and beat me by five or 10. I was blown away. It just really shows the strength of him and the work ethic he has.”
That commitment, power, and leadership is what has made Chara into one of, if not the best defenseman in the NHL. It is also why not many expect a repeat performance of Game Four of the Stanley Cup Final.
BostonBruins.com – The Bruins hit the ice this morning at United Center for their pre-game skate, in preparation for a crucial Game Five of the Stanley Cup Final. During Friday’s practice back in Boston, Carl Soderberg took the spot of Kaspars Daugavins on the fourth line, alongside Rich Peverley and Shawn Thornton.
Today, at the Bruins pre-game skate, Daugavins took the first rush with the fourth line, but alternated with Soderberg. B’s Head Coach Claude Julien would not commit to a final lineup.
“Why? Because I'm the coach, and because I can,” said Julien, when asked why he has tinkered with the fourth line. “You guys ask me why I make those changes. I didn't spend three days thinking about that. It's a situation that I can do. If I do that tonight, we'll see where it goes.
“I may just go back to Daugavins, because, again, I'm tinkering between those two, like I have from the beginning of the series.”
Soderberg played just six games during the regular season, which is why, Julien said, the native of Sweden has not seen any game action during the playoffs. But with the season-ending injury to Gregory Campbell in Game Three against Pittsburgh, a spot opened up.