B's clinch East's top spot, ready for playoffs

April, 5, 2014
Apr 5
6:08
PM ET
BOSTON -- The 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs can’t get here fast enough.

With a 5-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday at TD Garden, the Boston Bruins clinched the top record in the Eastern Conference, and with only four games remaining in the regular season, they have 113 points.

[+] EnlargeTuukka Rask
Brian Babineau/NHLI/Getty ImagesTuukka Rask improved to 35-15-5 in 2013-14.
After a two-game skid with losses to the Detroit Red Wings (3-2) and the Toronto Maple Leafs (4-3 OT), the Bruins remain confident, and it showed in their win over the Flyers. Loui Eriksson, who replaced an injured Jarome Iginla on Boston’s top line, recorded four assists and now has nine points in his past 11 games.

Teammate Milan Lucic had a pair of goals and one assist against the Flyers and now has 12 points in the past 15 games. Top-line center David Krejci had a goal and an assist to boost his totals to six points in the past five games. And Patrice Bergeron had an assist to extend his point streak to a career-best 11 games.

After Saturday’s win, Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask was asked about clinching the regular-season conference title.

"Oh?" Rask replied. "That’s good. It’s something we wanted to do, but it wasn’t like really our main goal. Everybody knows what our main goal is, but it’s good to finish first. We still have a few games left, and we’ve got to finish strong and feel good going into the playoffs."

Rask finished with 24 saves Saturday to improve his record to 35-15-5 and believes the team is confident enough to beat any team in the playoffs.

"We've felt that way for a long time -- if we play our style of hockey, we’re going to have a chance to beat everybody," Rask said. "Especially this year, we’ve shown glimpses of really good hockey, and lately, we've been playing pretty well, so I think the team feels pretty confident going into the playoffs."

Boston is 19-2-4 in its past 25 games, and the players are as anxious as anyone to start the Stanley Cup playoffs. In fact, this week the Bruins have played three potential first-round opponents in the Red Wings, Maple Leafs and Flyers, posting a 1-1-1 record. Despite that mark, the Bruins are pleased with the way they are playing.

"It’s really hard to stop our team when we’re playing pretty good hockey," Krejci said.

Bruins coach Claude Julien seems mostly satisfied but would like to see some improvement in the final games of the regular season.

"At this point of the year, we’re pretty good," Julien said of his team’s overall consistency. "I’ve seen a little bit of our sense of urgency just dip a little bit in the last little while, but not to the point of being worried. It’s just a natural thing right now. As I’ve mentioned often, our team is an experienced team and guys know when the time comes, they will be ready. To me, they’re still ready right now and playing some pretty good hockey against some teams that are still desperate right now."

In the final four games, the Bruins hit the road to face the Minnesota Wild (Tuesday) and Winnipeg Jets (Thursday), return to Boston to take on the Buffalo Sabres (April 12, the final home game) and finish at the New Jersey Devils (Sunday, April 13).

Joe McDonald

Reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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