WILMINGTON, Mass. – The Bruins hold just a narrow one-point lead for a playoff spot over the Detroit Red Wings and head on their last road trip of the season amid memories of imploding last spring on their last roadie of the season.
It could be equally painful this season heading to Western Conference powerhouses in St. Louis and Chicago, but the silver lining is they finish with three games on home ice at TD Garden.
The home dates include a likely winner-take-all game against the Red Wings on April 7, but there’s no doubt a disconcerting sense of déjà vu, and a healthy dollop of pressure, is settling in with the Black and Gold. David Krejci admitted as much, though, he said it may be stashed way behind the positivity that this season will be different for a new combination of players.
“This is the first time I’ve heard this word in a long time, so I don’t think this word should even be in this room,” said Krejci, when asked about the pressure facing Boston. “It’s more like urgency more than pressure. We know we what we came to do here, and the goal was to make the playoffs. In the playoffs you never know.
“We have five games left, so you just leave everything out there. There are no regrets after games. You just go out and play as hard as you can, and you do everything you can to help the team win. Obviously people talk about [last year], but it’s so far back in the back of my head. There are too many positive things going on, so you don’t let those negative things creep in there. You stay positive, battle hard and do whatever you can to help the team.”
What did Krejci learn from missing the playoffs for the first time in his NHL career after last season’s collapse at the bitter end?
“I learned to win games at the end of the season, or you won’t be in the playoffs,” said Krejci, in the kind of logic that can’t be disputed. “So we better start winning some games.”
For his part, Claude Julien said for all the talk of pressure and expectations, and perhaps even a case of good, old-fashioned nerves, that plain, glorious victory is the only thing that matter over this last handful of games. The Bruins have lost five of their past six games. That’s what matters much more than all of the idle talk in the world.
“Everybody always asks that questions. Do we sense pressure, or do sense this? Whatever word you want to use, everybody is going to use a different word: urgency, commitment, destiny. All these words are being used,” said Julien. “I don’t want to complicate it so much as to just go out there…we know we have to win hockey games, so just go out and do it. It’s as simple as that. Let’s not spend too much time thinking about it versus more time preparing for it.”
Plain and simple, the Bruins have five games to go out and protect the playoff spot they’ve worked hard all year to attain, and it won’t be easy with stops in St. Louis and Chicago.