Bruins

Bruins

BOSTON – No matter what gets thrown at the Boston Bruins this season, they have handled it all with resolve, character and a stubborn, hard-nosed unwillingness to relent when they might have every reason to do just that.

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Certainly they have lost some games here and there, and they’re in the midst of their greatest challenge of the year with the six-week scheduling gauntlet to end the regular season that they’re in the middle of right now. But it’s impossible at this point to deny that something special is going on with the Black and Gold with the way they’ve answered the bell all season, and responded positively to adversity every time it’s stormed onto their doorstep.

“We just want to work hard and finish strong,” said Bruins captain Zdeno Chara. “I think the main thing is that we are making strong plays. When there’s a chance to attack then we do, and we just try to play the right way.”

This time it was watching their leading goal-scorer and best all-around player, Patrice Bergeron, get diagnosed with a fractured right foot after playing back-to-back games through the pain in Toronto and Buffalo. Since the moment that No. 37 went out of the lineup amidst his best NHL season, the Bruins have ripped off five straight wins and essentially locked down the No. 2 seed in the Atlantic Division barring any tremendous collapse with 17 games remaining on their regular season schedule.

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It hasn’t always been the picture of perfect hockey as the Bruins are now currently down Bergeron, Charlie McAvoy (left knee) and David Backes (three-game suspension), but they’re still managing to come out on top in these games. Some of the credit should be going to Riley Nash, of course, who scored his career-best 13thgoal of the season while continuing to fill in for Bergeron while centering Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak on the B’s top line. 

Part of it is certainly the rest of their top players really coming through as Marchand has gone straight-up nuclear without his longtime center, and has posted five goals, nine points and three game-winning goals in the five games without Bergeron. 

That doesn’t even count the tremendous work done by Bruins general manager Don Sweeney at the trade deadline as he brought in Nick Holden, Rick Nash, Tommy Wingels and Brian Gionta, who have all contributed in big, winning ways since arriving in Boston, and gave up only Ryan Spooner from the current roster to make it happen. 

A big part of it is a tremendous will to win that’s been there all season, and bodes well for what the Black and Gold might be able to do once healthy and taking on all challengers during the Stanley Cup playoffs. 

“It’s our will to win. We have that,” said Bruce Cassidy. “It showed [against the Flyers] again. We got into some penalty trouble and there odd calls throughout the game, but we kept our cool and played through it and then played a tighter game when we needed to. It was one of those games where when it was 2-2 in the second period, it looked like the next goal was going to win, and we just hung in there, played and played it well. 

“That’s what’s impressed me is our will to win. We’ve had different guys step up over the course of the year, but lately it’s been a lot of Marchand and Pastrnak with Bergeron out. That’s great. At some point it will be tougher for them just the way the breaks work out, and I truly believe somebody else will then step up, or a line [will step up]. It’s just been that type of year that when we need it, we’ve gotten it.”

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Many, this humble hockey writer included, wondered if the Bruins would finally struggle while playing a grueling month of March with 16 games in 31 days, and it’s clear that dense schedule has begun making a negative impact with the key players subtracted from the lineup. But thus far the Bruins have won all four games during the month of March, and dispatched a couple of likely Metro Division playoff teams in the Penguins and Flyers over the last week. 

The moral of the story: Don’t ever underestimate the will to win that’s bubbling underneath the surface with a Bruins team that’s cleared every hurdle, eased every doubt and passed every test with high-flying Black and Gold marks this season. Something special is going on in Boston with the Bruins this season, and they just keep proving it over and over again this year.

 

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