BostonBruins.com - What are the signs that the Bruins are ready for their final nine game push to the playoffs?
Are they mentally ready, and in the right mindset to handle the pressure?
"Again, I keep the same thing I said yesterday, these next nine games will give me the answer to that," Head Coach Claude Julien said following Wednesday's practice at Ristuccia Arena. "And I'm standing here preparing the team for this next game. Not looking any further than Anaheim, and we need one game here to get the right results, to get us going, so I'm not looking any further than that."
"Overall, these next nine games will tell the tale of our season. That's my take on it."
BOSTON - Through the years, Cuts For a Cause has grown - in venue, fan support, team participation and funds raised.
Not only did the entire Bruins roster participate this year for the first time ever, but Tuesday's 8th Annual 98.5 The Sports Hub and Patrice Bergeron's Cuts for a Cause raised a record $130,027 for pediatric cancer.
Bergeron, who took over hosting duties this year, and his teammates had their heads shaved by auction winners on stage in front of hundreds of fans packed into the Boston Park Plaza Hotel.
Proceeds benefit the Boston Bruins Foundation and Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center. Through eight years, the event has raise more than $500,000 for charity.
"It's fun, it's easy to do, I think it's great to have all the guys," said Bergeron. "It's just getting bigger and bigger and it's amazing that we've been able over the years to raise $500,000 and it's definitely an easy thing to do for all of us."
WILMINGTON, Mass. - Dougie Hamilton is out indefinitely, Head Coach Claude Julien announced following the team's practice on Tuesday at Ristuccia Arena.
Hamilton left Saturday's game against the Panthers in Sunrise, Fla., and did not return. He was hurt on a collision with Scottie Upshall and Nick Bjugstad in the second period. Hamilton did not play on Sunday in Tampa against the Lightning.
"He's out indefinitely, and will be re-evaluated in a few more days," Julien said.
Zach Trotman remains with the team on an emergency basis, rounding out the six man defense corps.
"That's what we've had to do all year, is we've had to step up with a number of injuries," said Julien. "And we've got to keep doing it."
The Bruins woke up on Tuesday morning one point outside of the playoff picture, after the Ottawa Senators rolled to a 5-2 win over the San Jose Sharks on Monday night. Ottawa has 85 points to the Bruins' 84, with one game in hand.
TAMPA, Fla. - "Do you feel defeated?"
"Defeated? No," Chris Kelly quickly responded from the visiting team locker room at Amalie Arena on Sunday night.
The Bruins had just fallen 5-3 to the Tampa Bay Lightning, dropping their third straight loss on the road trip and fifth straight overall.
The team was certainly frustrated, and defeated in terms of the outcome.
But amidst a playoff race that sees them now just one point ahead of the Ottawa Senators for the final Wild Card spot, with nine games remaining, they won't dare feel defeated.
"We lost some big games, but I still think we control our destiny," said Kelly. "We have nine games left. If we go out and play well for these nine games, then good things will happen. We've got a good group here and I feel confident in our group."
"Right now, we've got to playing our best hockey and everyone's got to be willing to commit to playing their best and tonight, that wasn't the case."
SUNRISE, Fla. - David Krejci has spent 13 games watching from afar as the Bruins cling to the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
After four weeks out of the lineup, the center might be ready for a return this weekend after recovering from a partially torn MCL in his left knee, but he might not.
The Bruins would welcome the boost of the leader back in the lineup, having dropped three straight games, with their latest a 6-4 loss to the Senators on Thursday night. They have earned just one point in those three games.
But Krejci's situation wasn't any more apparent on Friday, when the team traveled to Sunrise, Fla. from Ottawa before facing the Panthers on Saturday night. Krejci and the Bruins quickly rushed onto the ice to get in a quick practice.
Is the centerman still a possibility to return on Saturday?
OTTAWA - The implication of Thursday night's matchup between the Bruins and Ottawa Senators was not lost on either side. The Senators sat just four points back of the Bruins for the second Wild Card spot, with a game in hand.
The Senators felt the pressure. The Bruins felt the pressure. If there was a game to be labeled the "biggest of the season" for both sides, this was it.
Within a mere 19 seconds, the game's tone was set.
A turnover not long after the opening draw led to the Sens racing in on Tuukka Rask and creating a 4-on-3. Kyle Turris ignited the crowd with the early tally and 1-0 lead, laying the groundwork for an eventual 6-4 win over the Bruins.
Boston did respond to the goal right away, with Carl Soderberg firing in his first goal in 25 games just 40 seconds later, as Turris' goal was still being announced to the crowd.
But back-and-forth, run-and-gun hockey is not how the Bruins play. Ottawa dictated that from the drop of the puck.
BostonBruins.com - The Bruins' playoff fate is in their hands.
They have a handle on the first Wild Card spot, a position they have hovered in for months, with 12 games left in the regular season.
As of Wednesday, the Bruins had a game in hand on the Washington Capitals, who sit three points above them.
Not far below, the Ottawa Senators have 79 points and a game in hand on Boston, while the Florida Panthers aren't going anywhere, with 76 points.
Is this what the NHL schedule makers had in mind, when they arranged the Bruins' upcoming road trip through Ottawa and Florida?
The Senators have been on a tear to climb back up the standings and have won four straight games since dropping a 3-1 loss to Boston on March 10. They have been emptying their tanks every night, and the Bruins will need to follow suit on Thursday night at Canadian Tire Centre.
"It's definitely an exciting time right now," Brad Marchand said following the team's skate on Wednesday, before they flew to Ottawa. "But it's also nerve-wracking. It's not the most ideal position to be in. I'm sure we'd much rather be in a more secure playoff spot, but at the end of the day, it's in our hands right now."
"And it's up to us to come out and play good hockey and win hockey games and if we can do that, then we'll be able to secure a playoff spot. But it's in this room, and it's up to us whether or not we're going to be there."
WILMINGTON, Mass. - With the Bruins jetting off for a three-game road trip to Ottawa and Florida, David Krejci will be making the trip with his teammates.
It marks the first time Krejci will be setting off on a road trip since sustaining his left knee injury on Feb. 20 in St. Louis.
Krejci practiced with the team on Wednesday at Ristuccia Arena, marking his second day skating with the group.
He first started skating on his own with Strength and Conditioning Coach John Whitesides on March 10. Krejci is just about four weeks into his recovery, and could be making a return as early as this weekend.
"He’s coming on the trip. I can’t tell you any more than that because really, nobody’s told me when he’s coming [back]," Head Coach Claude Julien said following Wednesday's practice. "I talked about, is he a possibility for the weekend? That could be a possibility, if I’m told he is, but right now, nothing has been said to me."
BOSTON - The Bruins don't take teams for granted. Head Coach Claude Julien makes sure it stays that way.
The Buffalo Sabres last won a game on Feb. 26. They have lost seven straight since then, and remain in the last spot in the standings. They come into TD Garden on Tuesday night facing the Bruins in the second game of a back-to-back.
Still, the Bruins won't be overlooking them.
"Well, anybody who watched the game last night should know better. That’s my take on it," Julien said pregame on Tuesday from TD Garden, referencing the Sabres' 4-3 shootout loss to the Washington Capitals in D.C. on Sunday night in which they carried the play for most of the game.
"The Rangers beat them 2-0 with an empty-net goal. They’re very competitive. When you go out there and just go out there and play and compete hard and obviously [have] no pressure, you become a pretty good team and that’s what they are right now."
"The last two times we beat them, it took overtime so we’re certainly not in a position to come out and take them lightly."
While the Bruins sit in the second Wild Card for a playoff position, four points back of the Capitals with two games in hand, the Sabres are at a point in the season where the end is in sight.
"[Ted Nolan's] team continues to be competitive, [but] his team is still at the bottom. It’s tough for a coach. It really is tough for a coach," Julien empathized. "In his position, he wants his team to succeed and play well. I’m not sure overall that’s not what they want when they’re looking for the first overall pick, so it’s not an easy position to be in."
BostonBruins.com - David Krejci rejoined his teammates on Tuesday morning, taking part in his first skate with the team since sustaining his left knee injury on Feb. 20.
Krejci first started skating a week ago, on March 10, under the watchful eyes of Strength and Conditioning Coach John Whitesides.
The center has missed 11 games with due to partially torn MCL in his left knee which has now been on the mend for three and a half weeks. He'll miss his 12th straight game on Tuesday, when the Bruins host the Buffalo Sabres at TD Garden.
By all accounts, Krejci is progressing well, and inching closer to a return, that could come as early as this weekend, depending on how he continues to feel.
"You know, he was able to skate with us today because of line rushes and all that," said Head Coach Claude Julien, pointing to there being no contact drills during the customary pregame skate.
"So, he's progressing well," he said. "I don't know exactly how close he is [to returning] - is he a possibility for the weekend? I think the earliest would probably be the weekend, at the earliest, and maybe even more."