Red Wings win, Bruins pushed out of their playoff position

Red Wings win, Bruins pushed out of their playoff position

It’s highly doubtful the Bruins needed another wakeup call, but they’ll have one on Sunday morning when they find out they are out of the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference. It’s a position they haven’t been in for any significant portion of time since prior to Thanksgiving, but it perfectly illustrates the kind of urgency Boston must play with in their final four games of the regular season.

The Detroit Red Wings held on for a 3-2 win over the Maple Leafs, and hopped one point ahead of the idle Bruins for third place in the Atlantic Division. The Philadelphia Flyers also took a 3-2 win over the Ottawa Senators on Saturday afternoon, and continued to firm up their chances of securing the final wild card spot in the East as well.

There is perhaps even more urgency now for all Eastern Conference teams to get into the playoffs by any way possible with the news that Steve Stamkos is out for the next couple of months with a blood clot problem in his arm. The absence of Stamkos in the Lightning lineup means the Atlantic Division side of the Eastern Conference playoff bracket is completely wide open for a team that can get hot over the next couple of months.

So the Bruins enter Sunday with a 70.5 percent chance of securing a playoff spot, according to the Sports Club Stats website, and need a road victory over the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center to reclaim their playoff position.

A win against the Hawks would also continue to finalize the winner-take-all stakes for the Bruins and the Red Wings on April 7 at TD Garden, a battle between two Original Six rivals with major postseason ramifications.

The Bruins hold one game in hand against Detroit headed into Sunday, and the Flyers have games in hand against both Boston (one) and the Red Wings (two) with the best odds of qualifying for the playoffs of the three hockey clubs with just a week to go in the regular season.

Krug steps up as Bruins stars go down

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Krug steps up as Bruins stars go down

The Bruins have managed to take three of a possible six points since Zdeno Chara went down in the third period of last week's comeback win over the Carolina Hurricanes, and they've done it completely without their top pairing since Charlie McAvoy has also been out all this time.

There are a number of factors behind the ability to withstand the injuries, of course, and the entire defense corps was stellar at both ends in the shutout win over Tampa Bay last weekend.


But it's Torey Krug who's really stepped up his game. He had three assists and 15 shots on net in those three games, and was immense in the win over the Lightning.

Krug has surpassed the 50-point plateau for the second straight season, a major accomplishment for a defenseman who prides himself on his puck-moving and power-play work.

"You know, he has [stepped up]," coach Bruce Cassidy said of Krug, adding: "Torey is always going to get his numbers, but he's really added to it 5-on-5 . . . [It] was comforting to see that [without Chara and McAvoy] we shut out one of the best teams [in the NHL], at home, that was rested. You've got to take something out of that. It was one of 82 [games], but that was a real positive for our guys."

For Krug, the challenge of stepping up and being a leader in the team's time of need is the kind of thing he takes pride in responding to with an elevated level of play.

"I'm in the business of winning hockey games and helping my team win," said Krug. "It falls on my shoulders to produce some offense from the back end. And [when] we're missing a couple of guys from the back end that do that push the pace, then you've got to step up and make some plays. When you play with a lot of great players then you'll get your points, and you just need to worry about the defensive zone first.

"We're confident in everybody in this room. A lot of people think that the guys on our back end can't get the job done, so for us to step up [is a good thing]."


The biggest sign of Krug's increased responsibility? He topped 26 minutes of ice time in two of the three games since Chara was injured. Only once before, when he was on the ice for 27-plus minutes against the Rangers in early November, has he played more than that.

The loss of Chara and McAvoy has forced Krug to go above and beyond his normal range of duties and he's stepped up and embraced it. That's what good players on good teams do, and it's something Krug has consistently done in the big moments since arriving in Boston five years ago.


Erik Karlsson and wife Melinda mourn death of their son

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Erik Karlsson and wife Melinda mourn death of their son

The Ottawa Senators announced Tuesday that team captain Erik Karlsson and his wife Melinda lost their son one month before his due date.


"The collective thoughts and prayers of the Ottawa Senators organization, the city of Ottawa and entire hockey community rest with Erik and Melinda Karlsson following the loss of their son.

We ask that you respect the family's wishes for privacy during the grieving process."

The couple announced via Instagram in November that they were expecting, and the CBC reports the baby was due in April.

Sens head coach Guy Boucher spoke about the tragedy after Ottawa's game vs the Panthers on Tuesday (1:36 mark in video below).

Karlsson, a rumored Bruins target before the trade deadline, received heartfelt condolences from the hockey world on Twitter:

Our thoughts too go out to Erik and Melinda during this incredibly difficult time.