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.