BOSTON – The Bruins had the second-to-last game of the regular season against the Detroit Red Wings circled for quite some.
It was the team they’ve been competing with in the Atlantic Division standings for that third divisional playoff spot, and it seemed like it might just become a winner-take-call showdown for the postseason. As it is, that won’t be the case with things coming down to the wire in the final game of the season for the Red Wings, Bruins and Flyers vying for two playoff spots, but the Bruins played with playoff-level urgency and intensity in the 5-2 win over the Wings at TD Garden.
It was one of Boston’s best efforts of the season considering the game’s importance, and the way they limited Detroit to a season-low 15 shots on net while barnstorming the Winged Wheels for five goals in victory.
“I think it was one of our obviously better efforts in quite a while. From start to finish the effort we put on at both ends of the ice, but also through the middle of the ice there - taking their speed away. Our guys really did a good job tonight,” said Claude Julien. “It’s important that we kind of bottle up that and bring the same kind of game here on Saturday. We want to give ourselves a chance. We’ve got to rely on some breaks here or there. We have to be focused and kind of bring that same kind of game to give ourselves the best chance possible.”
Unfortunately for the Bruins, things didn’t break too favorably for the Black and Gold on Thursday night. The Flyers and Wayne Simmonds scored a goal with less than a minute to go and the goalie pulled to get to overtime against the Maple Leafs, and give Philadelphia an extremely important point in an overtime defeat vs. Toronto.
What does that mean for the Bruins?
It means Boston must win their Saturday afternoon matinee in regulation against the Ottawa Senators to finish with 95 points, and then hope for some help from the Wings and Flyers. They either need Detroit to lose or win in the shootout only against the Rangers, or the Flyers to lose either one of their final two games against the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Islanders. Those are the paths to the playoffs for the Black and Gold, and it’s the same uneasy feeling as last season when the B’s needed help from other teams to get into the top-8.
“It’s fun. Obviously you’d like to be in a different position where your playoff spot is secure, but like I said earlier before the game, you want to play in big games and important games and you want to be the guy that helps your team win. I think right now we have a lot of guys in this locker room that want to help out that way,” said Torey Krug, who helped out when he snapped a 54-game scoreless streak with a power play goal in the second period. “You just realize how important it is to have every single guy pulling their load and committed to the system and moving forward, we played great. But that game is over with and we have another big test, and we’ve got to just realize that and bring the same effort Saturday.”
The Bruins don’t control their own destiny at this point with a single game remaining in the season and they’ve been inconsistent enough that nobody can predict how they’ll respond against the Senators on Saturday afternoon. But the B’s also gave themselves a shot by taking care of business against a clearly heavy-legged Detroit team on the second night of a back-to-back situation, and that was all they could control on Thursday night.