BOSTON – With another night of action and one step closer to the end of the regular season, a path to the Stanley Cup playoffs is beginning to open up for the Bruins for the first time in the last three seasons.
The Bruins took care of their business with a 5-2 win over the Florida Panthers on Saturday afternoon at TD Garden, and then watched as the Tampa Bay Lightning, Carolina Hurricanes both lost while the reeling Islanders likely have lost John Tavares for the rest of the regular season. The piling of points to 90 and counting for the B’s this season would seem to be a portent of good things to come in their future.
“You’ve got to keep winning. The other teams are going to continue to win,” said Torey Krug. “If we keep doing this, then we don’t have to look at the standings and look for help elsewhere. So we just focus on ourselves and continue to play our game, and keep looking to make improvements.”
Well, maybe the teams aren’t going to continue to win after all.
What all of this means is that the Bruins can clinch at least a wild card berth by winning three of their final four games entering Sunday’s action, and that magic number is likely to shrink as things progress over the final week of the season.
Perhaps of even more interesting, the Bruins are just a single point behind both the Maple Leafs and a reeling Ottawa Senators group that’s lost eight of their last 10 games while dropping in the Atlantic Division. So home ice in the first round of the playoffs against either Toronto or Ottawa is also still well within reach for a Black and Gold group should they able to finish strong in their final four games.
“You want to build confidence this time of the year. We hit a low – it was well documented last week – I think we played some good hockey during those losses [to Toronto and Ottawa],” said Bruce Cassidy. “It didn’t go our way, we kind of gutted it out defensively the last three or four games and kept it out of our net and made a conscious effort to do that. There’s still some things obviously we want to build into our game where we’re better defensively, and that’s generally started with the puck, our decision and our execution.
“But, yeah, we’re going to carry [some confidence] on the road and we’re back home next week with the schedule the way it is. With what we need to do down the stretch here, or continually need to do, it’s nice to have these home games in our back pocket because as of late we’ve played well here and the guys are confident here. So that’s a good thing.”
With the Saturday win over Florida, the Bruins are now 10-3-0 in 13 games on the Garden ice under Cassidy since the coaching change with a feeling they can be confident, and not overconfident, about what kind of story this team is writing for themselves this season.