With back to back wins over the Colorado Avalanche and Phoenix Coyotes this weekend, the Boston Bruins are now a single win away from tying their franchise record of thirteen victories in a row. Oh yea, and they were the first NHL team this season to secure a playoff spot, pushing their league best point total to 103, two better than the St. Louis Blues and a whopping six points ahead of their next closest Eastern Conference competition, the Pittsburgh Penguins. And with just eleven regular season games left, the B’s look primed and ready for a lengthy playoff run.
It’s finally official, after much debate and quite a bit of outrage (especially if you’re a Bobby Ryan fan) the 2014 Sochi Olympic Ice Hockey Tournament rosters were announced today. Five Bruins ended up making the cut, Patrice Bergeron for Canada, Zdeno Chara for Slovakia, Loui Eriksson for Sweden, David Krejci for the Czechs and Tuukka Rask for Finland. Bruins coach Claude Julien will also serve as an assistant coach for Team Canada.
Coach and Front Office Wasting No Time Lineup Adjustments
Like most coaches in the NHL do, Claude Julien has taken a beating during his time in Boston from Bruins fans who think they know better than the veteran headmaster (and I’ll admit, I’ve been guilty of it too). Everything from his systems, his ability to motivate, to how he handles young players has been called into question especially in recent seasons, which is a little strange given the Bruins’ success. Perhaps one of the biggest pain points for fans has been how the team has handled underperforming players, as during prior seasons the coach and front office has generally continued to trust said players while they worked through whatever issue they may be facing. But as the Black and Gold roll past the ten game mark of the 2013-14 season with a relatively average record, one thing is becoming abundantly clear: those days are quickly drawing to a close.
Before 2013-14 training camps kick off in September, a number of current and soon-to-be NHLers will be heading to orientation camps for their respective countries for the chance to participate in the 2014 Sochi Olympic Hockey Tournament. Reps for most qualifying teams announced their invitees today and the Bruins were relatively well represented, in Canada at least.
Obviously the Bruins were (appropriately) an afterthought given the events that took place yesterday in the city of Boston. My thoughts and prayers continue to be with all those directly affected and all those who call Boston home.
While we search for answers and start the healing process, the Bruins will press on and take to the ice for the first time since the bombings, hosting the Buffalo Sabres tomorrow night at the Garden (7:30 pm puck drop – NBC Sports Network). I for one am very much looking forward to what is sure to be a special rendition of the National Anthem before the game from Rene Rancourt.
Monday’s scheduled game against the Senators, which had been postponed, was rescheduled today to Sunday, April 28th at 7 pm. That will be the final game of the NHL regular season.
The black and gold held a spirited practice today and there were a few items of note:
Claude Julien termed Patrice Bergeron ‘highly probable‘ to return against the Sabres. He still has to be cleared by doctors before the game, but he appears ready to go.
Jordan Caron has been reassigned to Providence, mostly to make room for Bergeron’s return but also ahead of Carl Soderberg’s arrival, which is expected tomorrow. He could be on the ice for morning skate, but likely will not dress against the Sabres.
Brad Marchand was cleared for contact before today’s practice, but he wasn’t assigned a line so it’s unlikely that he will dress against the Sabres. If his recovery continues to go well, he could return Friday against Pittsburgh.
“We represent the city of Boston and we want to make sure we represent them well. All you can do is go out there and give it all you’ve got. Whether it gives a little bit of joy, or excitement to some people, it’s going to take a while to heal from this, and we don’t expect tomorrow to be the day that everything’s going to be OK, but you’ve got to start somewhere and tomorrow’s a great time for us to go out there and play our hearts out for all the right reasons.”
There were many displays of support across the league last night, with moments of silence in Chicago, Montreal, Phoenix and other arenas. The National Anthem in Chicago was particularly moving:
Phoenix Coyotes defenseman and Boston native Keith Yandle showed his support with a message on his skates:
Regardless of the outcome of tomorrow night’s game, it will be a big first step towards moving forward and a great opportunity for the people of Boston and all Bruins fans to come together and get their minds off of yesterday’s events for a few hours. Go Bruins!