Monday, March 28, 2011
With playoffs clinched, B's look to polish game
By James Murphy
WILMINGTON, Mass. -- The Bruins clinched a playoff spot for the fourth straight season with their 2-1 win over Philadelphia on Sunday night, but their job is far from done. While they're not going to sweat any losses in their last seven games -- a stretch that starts Tuesday night against Chicago -- they are still playing to win while also polishing their game so they are ready for the playoffs.
"It's always nice to make it in and it's been a process from day one, from Vermont to Prague, and here we are with seven games left and we're still trying to do some things to make sure that we're on top of things before the playoffs," said Mark Recchi, who moved into 12th all time in regular-season points Sunday with an assist on Brad Marchand's winning goal. "The guys are doing a good job and we've got another big test [Tuesday]. We want to be good and we want to play some great hockey and build some momentum.
"We've got to keep this thing going. We played three good games out of our last four and we want to keep the momentum going. We want to make sure come playoff time, we're not trying to find our game, we're actually there and we'll be ready for it."
Defenseman Dennis Seidenberg agreed with Recchi and said the Bruins' goal is to win, but also to make sure any weaknesses in the team's game are addressed.
"Our goal is still to win every game and every time we hit the ice we want to win, but the main focus is to keep being consistent with our play and keep getting better at being consistent," Seidenberg said. "We need to prepare ourselves well for the playoffs. [Sunday] was a tight, playoff-like game. We were down first and then we pulled it out and won late, so that's a test passed. Then we got the power play going too and that's huge. Now we just need to keep cleaning up other areas that need work and keep playing like it's the playoffs at the same time."
There are still numerous possibilities as to whom the Bruins may face in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The players definitely pay attention to the standings and examine different scenarios, but as Seidenberg pointed out, they can really only control their own performance and make sure they're ready to play anyone.
"We definitely look at the standings and there's like three or four possibilities right now, but really it doesn't matter who we play at the end because if you want to win the Stanley Cup, you have to beat anyone," Seidenberg said. "We have to be prepared for anything, and really it's about us and how we play in the last seven games."
While the Bruins will continue to play to win, coach Claude Julien also will use the last seven games to get players such as defensemen Steven Kampfer, a frequent healthy scratch recently, and Shane Hnidy, who is recovering from a rotator cuff injury, into the lineup so that they're ready for the playoffs if called upon.
"It's nice to clinch with more than just a game or two left in the season," Julien said. "Right now, the challenge is going to be to keep our game going in the right direction, and not get complacent and comfortable, and hopefully get into the playoffs with confidence and the team firing on all cylinders.
"I think down the road, you're going to see us moving some of those guys in there and we're going to try to make sure we keep everybody more or less in the loop. But at the same time, you want to make sure that you have a roster that you feel comfortable with. We're going to try to balance that out, whether it's goaltenders, whether it's Ds or even forwards for that matter."