BOSTON -- The Bruins are back in their rightful place among the Eastern Conference teams.
After falling out of the No. 2 spot in the East for the first time since Nov. 30 when Ottawa won on Friday night, the Bruins reclaimed their place atop the Northeast Division with a 3-2 shootout win over the Flyers at TD Garden on Saturday.
The Bruins are ahead of Ottawa by a single point, but they also currently have the tie-breaker by virtue of their two games in hand on the Senators. The Senators gained no ground on Boston when they dropped a 3-1 decision to the lowly Maple Leafs on Saturday night, and are running out of chances to unseat the reigning Cup champs.
It appears the divisional title could come down to the final regular-season matchup between the Bruins and Senators in April, but Boston seems much more concerned with putting out a consistent all-around effort in each of their remaining 11 games.
I think we know that time is running out here, said coach Claude Julien."With 11 games left, its important that we bring that kind of an effort, that kind of a game, night in, night out right now.
"We all know, first of all, that we want to be part of the playoff scene. Second of all, we want to be in the best position possible. And thirdly, you want to make sure you play your best hockey once the playoffs start. You have to build toward that and weve got a lot of building to do.
The Bruins took an early lead for the first time in eight games against the Flyers on Saturday, they allowed less than three goals for only the second time in 11 games during the month of March as Tim Thomas finally got his game back on track. But the bottom line is still pretty similar: The Bruins and the Senators sit in the standings with the same number of points, and Boston needs to keep winning if it hopes to retain home ice in the postseason.
Its hard to envision a defending Stanley Cup champion completely collapsing under the weight of pressure to simply qualify for the postseason, but injuries and a lot of hockey over the last two years are taking their toll. Its up to the Bruins to completely ignore all those nagging issues and simply focus on taking care of the business at hand.
It was great. I think everyone was focused, said Patrice Bergeron of the Bruins' effort on Saturday. We put that road trip in the past and tried to learn from it. We have 11 games left. Weve got to make a statement for us as a team. I think we did that against the Flyers with a great effort overall. We found a way. Yes, it wasnt easy, but still we found a way.
Its never easy for the Bruins, but theyre finding a way to hang on to their playoff pole position despite a list of hockey clubs vying to take it away from them.