TORONTO - The Bruins and Maple Leafs face off on Thursday night at the Air Canada Centre in their fourth and final meeting on the season.
As has been the case - with now just six games remaining in the regular season - Boston and its opponent are in much different places.
Boston suffered their first regulation loss in 17 games on Wednesday, falling 3-2 in Detroit, with their nine-game winning streak on the road coming to an end.
Points-wise, the Bruins still have the Presidents' Trophy to play for, sitting at 110 points heading into Thursday's game, with St. Louis at 109. Boston could also clinch the Eastern Conference with a win against the Leafs, depending on the outcome of Pittsburgh's game against Winnipeg.
But, the Black & Gold also have their pride keeping them going.
"We don’t want to lose games. It doesn't matter what it is," Tuukka Rask said postgame in Detroit. "It doesn’t matter if you win 20 in a row, a loss is a loss."
DETROIT - Jarome Iginla is day-to-day with a lower-body injury.
The winger was a late scratch Wednesday night in Detroit, after taking part in the Bruins' pregame skate at Joe Louis Arena earlier in the day. He did not take part in warmups prior to the game.
According to Head Coach Claude Julien, it is "not a major injury" and the winger would have played through it, had the game been in the postseason.
"Absolutely, yeah. That's why 'day-to-day' - it's not a major injury here. He skated this morning," Julien said following the team's 3-2 loss to the Red Wings.
The game marked Iginla's first out of the lineup due to an injury of any kind since the 2006-07 season.
With the winger sidelined, Jordan Caron slotted into the lineup. Loui Eriksson filled on the right wing, alongside David Krejci and Milan Lucic. Caron took Eriksson's spot for the game, skating with Chris Kelly and Carl Soderberg.
DETROIT - For the first time in 31 days, the Bruins suffered a regulation loss.
Falling to the Red Wings 3-2 at Joe Louis Arena on Wednesday night, it marked just their third loss since March 1. Boston is 15-2-1 in that span, but still, a loss is a loss.
"We don’t want to lose games," said Tuukka Rask.
"It doesn't matter what it is. It doesn’t matter if you win 20 in a row, a loss is a loss. Especially when you lose in the third period. But we've got a new one [Thursday], so got to get over this."
The Black & Gold outshot Detroit 35-20 in the game, and 25-11 after the first 40 minutes. But as the Wings can often do, they capitalized on opportunities.
Following a scoreless first period, Johnny Boychuk blasted in his fourth of the season to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead. A power-play fire from Torey Krug had just been immediately waved off, with Zdeno Chara pushed into Detroit netminder Jimmy Howard's stick.
DETROIT - When a team is rolling like the Bruins, it's tough to find a player in the room that isn't confident, that isn't positive, and that doesn't have the hunger to keep up the pace that has them at the top of the NHL.
On Wednesday morning at Joe Louis Arena, as Boston prepared to face Detroit for the teams' fourth and final meeting of the regular season, that feeling was widespread, both on the ice and in the locker room.
"You know, I think it’s definitely a good thing to see with the way we’re playing right now but I think everyone in here is confident - and just doesn’t want to let that go," said Daniel Paille, slowing down that last part word by word, to stress its importance.
This team, right now, does not want to lose. No team ever does. But the Bruins are 15-0-1 in their past 16 games and have won a franchise record nine on the road heading into Wednesday night's matchup with the Wings.
"There are a lot of positive vibes going around the dressing room and everyone wants to battle for one another and at this time of year, it’s extremely important," said Paille.
"We know that we’ve been kind of lucky in a couple games and I think that's been keeping us even-keeled going into the next game."
BostonBruins.com - In March, the Bruins blazed a 15-1-1 record, clinching a playoff berth and the Atlantic Division along the way.
During that span, Jarome Iginla scored 13 goals, including five game-winners, putting up 17 points with a plus-12 rating. On Tuesday, he was named the NHL's First Star of the Month.
A day prior, Patrice Bergeron had been given Second Star of the Week honors for the NHL's week ending March 30. The centerman put up five goals during the week, with the game-winner in a 3-0 shutout of Chicago, and capped off a career-best seven-game streak, scoring eight goals in that span.
Both Bruins, along with the collective team in the Spoked-B, have been on fire, and don't appear to be slowing down anytime soon.
"I think it's incumbent on us as players to keep pushing the pace; the coaching staff drives us every day and the leaders in the room have been the ones that have really been stepping up, as you see Bergy, Jarome, those guys have been playing great hockey," said Gregory Campbell. "And that's what we need."
WILMINGTON, MA - Forward Ryan Spooner was recalled by Boston on Tuesday from Providence on an emergency basis, and is traveling with the team to Detroit.
There are no injuries, and the entire team is making the trip, including Spooner.
"Everybody's going on the trip," Head Coach Claude Julien confirmed, following the team's optional skate on Tuesday at Ristuccia Arena. The Bruins were flying out for a back-to-back in Detroit and Toronto on Wednesday and Thursday.
"Just, Carl Soderberg is on the bubble there with his wife, she's pregnant, so if he had to leave quickly, we want to make sure we don't get caught without an extra body up front."
"Again, you talked about, 'why is Spooner is up?' Krejci's been dealing with a sore throat too, and if he's not ready to go, then we can always use [Spooner]," added Julien.
BostonBruins.com - Boston clinched the Atlantic Division on Saturday afternoon, with a 4-2 win over the Capitals in Washington, D.C.
Win No. 51 gave them 108 points on the season, one point above St. Louis' 107 as the Blues were set to face the Dallas Stars on Saturday night.
The Bruins extended their point streak to 15 games, at 14-0-1 with only a shootout loss included in that stretch. With the victory at the Verizon Center, they have won eight straight games on the road, matching the franchise record.
In the past 15 games, Jarome Iginla has led the way in scoring with 13 goals. His most recent pair of goals came in the win over the Capitals. His 30th of the season served as the game-winner.
"It's been fun to win games, and be battling with the top of the league, and to be on some streaks as a group, and to see them go in too," said Iginla.
In that order.
For Iginla and the Bruins, that's the order the operate on - and a testament to their success.
BostonBruins.com - With nine games remaining in the regular season, and only two regulation losses in their past 27 games, the Bruins are still battling on.
"Nine?" questioned Shawn Thornton, as he rested in his locker stall after practice at Ristuccia Arena on Friday in Wilmington, MA.
"Nine," was the confirmation, for the Bruin who always preaches the team's game-by-game mindset. Case in point.
"Alright," he responded, in a 'bring it on' type of tone.
No time to take it easy.
"No. I think things have been going well, but we don't really look backwards, we just continue to try and play our game these next couple of weeks, so can't get rusty, can't let your guard down," said Thornton, who always has a simple, no-bones-about-it approach when giving a read on the Black & Gold.
"We want to be playing good hockey, so that's the goal now."
The Bruins have accomplished that to this point, throughout the past couple of months, and especially in the month of March, which ends with a back-to-back on the road against the Washington Capitals on Saturday and Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday.
"I think Philly, Wash, they're always good games with us, so I think it's another good test going into this weekend," said Thornton. "Not really letting up, keep going, but that's what we want anyways. I think the way we're built; we want challenges."
WILMINGTON, MA - The outlook for Adam McQuaid appears optimistic after a frustrating injury-marred for the Bruins defenseman.
On Friday afternoon, when Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien was asked about McQuaid's progress, the bench boss responded right away.
"He's being ramped up right now, off ice," said Julien. "He's going in the right direction as we speak."
McQuaid's teammates had just finished hitting the ice for a practice at Ristuccia Arena, while he was taking part in his off-ice workouts.
"I don't know exactly when you're going to see him on the ice, but right now, things are going well for him."
Back on March 5, General Manager Peter Chiarelli had announced that McQuaid was being shut down for two to three weeks to rest his quad strain before beginning rehab again.
The defenseman had been close to a return after the Olympic Break, before re-aggravating it. He's missed a combined 42 games with lower body injuries heading into the Bruins' back-to-back games on March 29 and 30 against the Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers.
BOSTON - Following a 3-0 shutout of the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday night, the Bruins are 13-0-1 in their past 14 games. Their last regulation loss came on March 1.
In their past 10 games, they have allowed two goals or less. Two of those games have been shutouts.
"It’s not something you really are always thinking about, that I knew," said Patrice Bergeron, of the stats. "It is something that is part of our game as a team as a whole. We are a defense type of team and we get some offense with playing defensively sound."
"So I think we have to keep that going."
It's no secret that Boston's pride stems from their defensive responsibility. Their structure and layers - when executed - give them the results they want.
"We’re in the right position right now, as far as where you want to be at this time of year," said Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien. "Almost every gameday morning, we spend time looking at an area where we feel might have slipped a little bit. So, we’re staying on top of things, too."