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."
ST. PAUL, MN - With four games left in the regular season, David Krejci got the night off on Tuesday night against the Minnesota Wild, as the Bruins begin to rest up before the rapidly approaching postseason.
Opting to give Krejci rest, the Bruins had to go with 11 forwards and seven defensemen in the lineup. Torey Krug played most of the game at forward, on the left wing with Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton. Corey Potter slotted in on defense. Milan Lucic played with Carl Soderberg and Loui Eriksson.
"We’ll still get to do what we want to do here, so just a matter of putting that puzzle together with four games left and go with it," Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien had said pregame, of implementing their rest plan with Iginla out of the lineup.
Still, while the Black & Gold didn't have all hands on deck, they weren't pleased with the outcome at the end of 60-plus minutes, only picking up a point in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Wild at the Xcel Energy Center.
ST. PAUL, MN - The Bruins' final stretch before the postseason now includes just four games, beginning on Tuesday night against the Minnesota Wild.
That means four games "to make sure we're getting ready for the big dance," in the words of Shawn Thornton.
Coming off their 5-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday, this is a time when the Bruins are in fine-tuning mode, focusing on no team but themselves. So, really, facing the Wild is no different than any other opponent right now in their minds.
"Well, I think the same as the other weeks," said Chris Kelly, of the approach for the Bruins this week, with the season coming to an end on April 13. "You know, there's still lots of hockey to be played. I think when you play a hockey game, it's an opportunity to get better, to work on things, and that's kind of the approach we're taking."
Both are still traveling with the team on their road trip to face Minnesota and Winnipeg.
"Yeah, they’re coming on the trip with us," Head Coach Claude Julien confirmed following Monday's practice. "They're still, I say 'day-to-day,' so we’re just going to be cautious this time of year, we’re just not pushing it. But they’re coming on the trip and is there a chance they could play? Yes."
And if the playoffs started today, would both be able to play?
"Oh yes, no doubt," said Julien.
Iginla and Miller both missed Saturday's game against Philadelphia at TD Garden with what Julien deemed as "very minor" situations.
"I would assess that more as maintenance more than anything else," Julien had said following the game. "And you guys know that [Jarome] missed a game in Detroit, he came back and right now, it’s still not 100 percent, so we’re going to take our time here with him. So same thing with Kevan."
BostonBruins.com - "Old-Time Hockey. All Guts. No Glory." These are the worse stitched on the back of the Bruins' new Player of the Game jacket, a varsity-style get-up, with weathered tan leather sleeves, that was once worn by Johnny "The Chief" Bucyk.
Milan Lucic was wearing it in front of his locker room stall on Saturday afternoon, as the Bruins took two points in a 5-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers to clinch the top spot in the Eastern Conference heading into the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Lucic notched two goals and an assist in the win.
Following the victory, Boston only has four games remaining in the regular season, before a new quest for the Cup begins.
"This is the new game jacket, from Johnny Bucyk," said a smiling Lucic, the first to don the new 2014 version of the jacket. "This is the new look from here on in, after a win, and hopefully we can pass it along for a long time."
The Jacket has taken on a meaning beyond just the fabric of its makeup since the Bruins' 2011 run to the Cup. The 2013 run saw the Bruins pass along a military jacket from win to win, that was given to Andrew Ference as a gift from Army Rangers.
This time around, it was The Captain, Zdeno Chara, who decided to acquire the new jacket from the Bruins' legend that has been a part of the organization for more than 50 years.
TORONTO - It's a foreign feeling for the Bruins, to be playing catch-up hockey.
It hasn't happened often throughout the past month, especially in the third period. But on Thursday night at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, the Bruins found themselves down 3-1 to the Maple Leafs.
Boston eventually fell 4-3 in overtime to a Toronto squad that desperately needed the two points in continuing their bid for a spot in the postseason, but it was a glimpse at what those in the Spoked-B know they'll face come playoff time. Adversity.
"Shows some character to be able to tie it up against a desperate team like Toronto, and these are the types of situations you can find yourselves in the playoffs," said Lucic.
The Bruins were playing from behind nearly the entire game. The Leafs jumped out to a 1-0 lead just six minutes in, with Paul Ranger putting in the loose puck after a scramble in front of Chad Johnson.