B's hold playoff fate in own hands in final week

B's hold playoff fate in own hands in final week

BOSTON – The Bruins enter the final week of the NHL regular season with control of their playoff fate in their own hands.

Three regulation or overtime wins against the Hurricanes, Red Wings and Senators will get them into the Stanley Cup playoffs after 96 points wasn’t enough to do it for them last year. Currently the Bruins sit out of the playoff structure a point behind the Red Wings for the third spot in the Atlantic Division, but those two teams will face off for an April 7 winner-take-all showdown at TD Garden that should be something special.

The Bruins veterans were taking pages right out of the “one game at a time” handbook when asked about the crucial week ahead.

“We are focusing on the game [against the Hurricanes]. That’s the biggest focus right now,” said Zdeno Chara. “We don’t look at it as a three-game [sequence], you know? Right now we look at it like [the Carolina] game is the biggest game for us.

“It’s obviously not an ideal situation, but nobody is giving up. I think we all know what we’re playing for, so we’ve got to be ready to go.”

The Sports Club Stars website has the Black and Gold with a 62.2 percent probability of making the postseason, which are slightly better odds than the Red Wings (60.4 percent) but currently worse odds than the Philadelphia Flyers (78.7 percent) currently entrenched in the final wild card spot in the East.

Despite coming off a weekend where they managed to secure two points in St. Louis before getting their doors blown out in Chicago, the Bruins are trying to project an air of confidence while a distinct whiff of tightness and nerves was also present in the Boston dressing room after Monday’s practice.

But the B’s allowed 11 goals to the Blues and Blackhawks over the weekend ostensibly without Kevan Miller and Dennis Seidenberg, and there’s no guarantees those two defensive warriors will be back for all three games this week.

“Three to go, and if we want all three of them then we’re in no matter what Detroit is going to do,” said David Krejci. “That’s a good thing. We just have to take it one at a time now. It’s been a couple of years since we’ve been in [the playoffs]. It’s the best part of the season [and] it’s the best part of hockey. So it would be nice to be there battling for the prize at the end.

“It’s in our hands, so we just need to take it one game at a time and go get it. We just need to go out there play our game, control what we can control and not worry about other things. We just need to go out there and play our best. The biggest we need to do is to not look ahead, and just stay in the moment.”

Missing the playoffs two seasons in a row could have dire consequences for the coaches, players and management on Causeway Street, and the gravity of that situation was undoubtedly presence with three games to go and a clear path to the postseason there for Boston’s taking.

Bruins sign prospect Ryan Donato to entry-level contract

File Photo

Bruins sign prospect Ryan Donato to entry-level contract

The Bruins announced Sunday they have signed Harvard forward Ryan Donato to an entry-level contract.

Donato will be eligible to play in tomorrow's game vs the Blue Jackets.

The 21-year-old led Harvard in scoring in 2017-18, recording 26 goals and 17 assists for 43 points in 29 games. Donato also represented Team USA at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, where he tied for the most goals in the Olympics with five in as many games.


Morning Skate: Is the NHL playoff system broken?

File Photo

Morning Skate: Is the NHL playoff system broken?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world and what I’m reading while the Bruins are finally back in Boston.  

*Larry Brooks says that the NHL playoff system is broken as it continues to “pass off mediocrity as parity.” I don’t really agree that there’s a big problem, but it will be too bad that one of the Eastern Conference’s two best teams (Boston and Tampa Bay) will be done after the second round of the playoffs.

*A pretty cool gesture from the Montreal Canadiens as a group of them wore turtlenecks during warm-ups on Saturday night prior to playing Tomas Plekanec for the first timer as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

*Congrats to the Team USA Paralympics squad for capturing another Gold Medal for the Red, White and Blue. What a great story they are.   

*Evander Kane opens up about Winnipeg, his past on social media and hockey culture as he seems to have found a place where he’s comfortable in San Jose.

*The Carolina Hurricanes are suspending their GM search until the group of available candidates can widen in the offseason. That was probably always for the best.

*The New York Islanders are getting a little weird with things here late in the season as they’re taking a look at John Tavares on the wing. Hmmm. Seems like an odd move.

*For something completely different: A great return for Bill Hader to Saturday Night Live where he revisited a number of his best characters.