TORONTO – The Bruins know they have a hugely important week in front of them when it comes to finally locking down their playoff spot and an equally big divisional game awaits them on Tuesday vs. the Ottawa Senators in Boston.
Still, the Bruins were taking the strict “one game a time” approach in preparation for Monday night’s important tilt vs. the Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre. It’s a mantra that goes from regular-season cliché to tunnel vision necessity once the games begin to grow in importance. This week’s four-game set against Toronto, Ottawa, Tampa Bay and the Islanders is the most important week in Boston’s season to date.
“We all see the standings and we all know where we’re at. We know [Toronto and Ottawa] are important games in our division and huge rivals. We play against them so many times, so it makes for a big matchup,” said Patrice Bergeron. “We need to make sure we think about this Toronto game first and then go from there. It’s a big week for us, but we really need to think about Toronto first.”
It’s with good reason that Boston has their mind on Toronto rather than looking ahead. The young, fast and dynamic Leafs have beaten the Bruins in all three previous meetings this season with the Toronto outscoring the Black and Gold by a 14-7 margin. A regulation win for Boston could drive Toronto all the way back to five points behind the Bruins for that third Atlantic Division playoff spot with just a game in hand for the Leafs and just 10 games to go in Boston’s season.
That would allow the Bruins to start focusing on perhaps catching the Senators after Ottawa, four points head of the B's, lost its fourth game in a row on Sunday. Home ice in the first round of the playoffs could even still be in play for the Black and Gold, but again “one game at a time” is the phrase of the day.
“A lot can happen in 11 games, but it’s a huge game without question,” said Brad Marchand. “It should have a playoff-type feel, so hopefully we’re prepared. We have to make sure we bring our best game. It’s going to be a battle.”
That kind of cushion would make it almost impossible for Toronto to catch up to them barring another late-season Boston collapse that doesn’t seem likely this time around under a new coach.