BRIGHTON, Mass – The Bruins are clearly in the slogging-through-the-mud portion of their regular-season schedule. It’s showed with three regulation losses in their past six games, including fairly uninspired defeats at the hands of both Vancouver and Buffalo.
So, the Black and Gold are hoping that a Thursday night showdown with a reigning back-to-back Stanley Cup champs might be the exact kind of thing to kick-start the Bruins into gear, even if they will be missing Patrice Bergeron (broken foot), along with healthy scratches Danton Heinen and Matt Grzelcyk.
The Penguins also should be properly motivated as they were on a roll with six consecutive wins in February, but ended the month with a pair of losses to Florida and New Jersey before rolling into Boston for a rivalry game. The Penguins have always brought out the best in the Bruins over the years since Sidney Crosby arrived in Pittsburgh and that’s exactly what Bruce Cassidy is hoping for a team that’s been much more inconsistent the past couple of weeks.
“I think the best thing for us to use the game to measure where we’re at,” said Cassidy. “It’s the two-time Stanley Cup champions that are playing very well right now, and some saying that they’re trending toward a third [Cup]. So, it will be a very good measuring stick for our hockey club to see where we’re at.”
More so than what the Penguins are bringing to the table, however, this is more about the Bruins getting closer to the team that they were from mid-November until mid-February when they were the NHL’s best. The special teams have slipped in recent weeks, the defense has shown some cracks and the offense is going to be challenged without their leading goal-scorer in Patrice Bergeron, but perhaps a date with the champs is exactly what the Bruins need right now in order to get the fire burning once again.
At least that’s what the Bruins are hoping as they kick off a hellish month of March where they will play 16 games in 31 days and look to get on the other side of it in one piece and ready to start preparations for the playoffs.
Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while the Bruins are going into troll mode.
*Here is the aforementioned “troll mode” for the Bruins now that they’ve clinched a playoff berth. They came out with a marketing campaign where they’re dragging FOH (Friend of Haggs) Mike Felger for his early season take that the Bruins season is over. He also ripped the young players at the beginning of the year as well, so they used the sound from “Felger and Mazz” with video clips of David Pastrnak and Charlie McAvoy dominating for the Black and Gold, and shots of the young players mean mugging at the camera. It definitely shows that the Bruins perhaps care a little too much about what the media thinks about them, but it’s also a fair bit of clap-back toward a take that was a little too harsh on the B’s early in the season.
*What a great piece on the Stoneman Douglas hockey team as they embark on a national hockey tournament after winning at the state level in the weeks after the Parkland shooting.
*Chicago Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman says the Hawks aren’t shaken even as they’ll be missing the playoffs for the first time in a long time. What a disappointing season.
*Despite a great season, Taylor Hall may end up missing the playoffs with the New Jersey Devils amidst his Hart Trophy-type season.
*Good news for the Toronto Maple Leafs as Auston Matthews is returning from injury ahead of the playoffs.
*For something completely different: This new, updated version of the Karate Kid web series looks awesome with Billy Zabka and Ralph Macchio.
Bruins star center Patrice Bergeron has been dealing with a fractured foot injury since late February. He sustained the injury while blocking a shot in the loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Coach Bruce Cassidy is predicting a return for Bergeron this weekend against the Minnesota Wild if he is medically cleared. He will be evaluated tomorrow.
Depending on the results from the evaluation, there might not even be a need to rush Bergeron back with the Bruins clinching a playoff berth in a 2-1 OT loss to the Blues yesterday evening.
MORE BRUINS: Bruins clinch playoff berth in 2-1 OT loss to Blues
The Bruins currently sit six points behind the Tampa Bay Lighting for first place in the Atlantic Division. Ten games currently remain on the B’s schedule with the Presidents' Trophy also hanging in the balance.
If the B’s decide to make a run for the Presidents' Trophy, Bergeron would definitely provide a boost in play in addition to leadership for the final stretch of the regular season.