If the Bruins had to pay a dollar for every time they said something about “controlling their own destiny,” they might be at risk of having overages against the cap next season.

They can no longer say that, however, and their words these days aren’t as flowery.

Torey Krug

Torey Krug

If the Bruins had to pay a dollar for every time they said something about “controlling their own destiny,” they might be at risk of having overages against the cap next season.

They can no longer say that, however, and their words these days aren’t as flowery.

“Obviously we need a little bit of help,” Torey Krug said Thursday afternoon.

Even though the Bruins can’t be eliminated until Saturday at the earliest, they should consider Thursday night’s game against the Red Wings a must-win. Beating Detroit would increase their not-so-great chances of either getting the third seed in the Atlantic Division or the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, which would send them to the Metropolitan Division to play the Capitals in the first round.

“We have a job to do. Unless we do our job, we’re going to be out of luck,” Krug said. “It’s pretty much a do-or-die attitude and for that we’ve just got to come out with a good start tonight and make sure we set off on the right foot and have the right mindset.”

The Red Wings are coming off a 3-0 win over the Flyers on Wednesday. They have not fared well in the second games of back-to-backs this season, dropping nine of their last 10. The Bruins, meanwhile, last played Tuesday and did not have a morning skate Thursday.

“We’re focused and we’re feeling confident,” Brad Marchand said. “I think we believe in our team and our group and I think we’re going to be prepared tonight.”

The Bruins failed to control their own destiny by giving away points recently against non-playoff opponents such as Carolina and New Jersey. Now, they face pressure to get points while hoping that either Detroit or Philadelphia will falter in their remaining games.

While the Bruins say they’re determined, determination is only part of it. The bigger issue is that they aren’t playing well, having lost eight of their last 10 games (2-7-1).

“Obviously, as of late, our play hasn’t been where it should be and we haven’t been getting the results that we wanted, so [it’s] a little bit [surprising], but at the same time, you can’t sit there and wonder what if,” Krug said. “You’ve got to make sure that you take the opportunity you have at hand and make sure you go with it and put your best foot forward.”

 

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean
Claude Julien

Claude Julien

Regardless of how Thursday’s meeting goes, the B’s can forget about the Red Wings after Thursday night. This is because the race for the third spot in the Atlantic Division seems all but settled.

Detroit has a two-point lead over the Bruins and has won two more games in regulation or overtime than Boston. The Wings also play the Rangers in their final game of the season; the Rangers’ current standing as the third team in the Metropolitan Division might give them incentive to lose in an attempt to slip to the first wild card spot so they can play in the Atlantic, which figures to be the easier division.

At any rate, the Bruins should consider a regulation win over Detroit the only acceptable outcome of Thursday’s meeting. Not only would it keep faint hopes of getting the Atlantic spot alive, but it would give the B’s a decent chance of getting the second wild card spot given that the Flyers lost to the Wings in regulation Wednesday. In other words, the game that put the Wings firmly in the driver’s seat for the Atlantic spot also made Philadelphia’s spot more attainable for Boston to grab in the coming days.

When it seemed the Bruins would be an Atlantic playoff team, a two or three-round run in the playoffs seemed at least possible given the lack of legitimate contenders in the Eastern Conference. If Boston gets in on the second wild card spot, however, it would mean they would face the Presidents’ Trophy winning Capitals in the first round.

So while the B’s would still make the playoffs, their stay likely wouldn’t be long. The Caps are the class of the Eastern Conference and beat the B’s in all three regular-season meetings (Boston went 0-2-1 in such games).

One percent chance at Auston Matthews aside, barely making the playoffs and then getting rocked in the first round would still be better than missing the playoffs altogether. Postseason experience for players like Ryan Spooner, David Pastrnak and Frank Vatrano would be valuable. Furthermore, reaching the postseason could save Claude Julien’s job if it’s in jeopardy.

The Bruins who were made available to the media Thursday said they wouldn’t hang their heads if they got in as a wild-card team instead of as an Atlantic team. They just want to be there.

“It would have been nice to be in first, right?” Dennis Seidenberg said. “We’re in a position where we’re battling for the second wild card spot or third in our division. At this point, we’re just worried about getting into the postseason. Everything else doesn’t really matter right now.”

Perhaps it’s for the best that the B’s are aiming for that divisional spot, even if the chances of getting it might be unrealistic. At least that way they’ll be motivated to execute against Detroit for a win they could use in either scenario. Should the B’s win Thursday and Saturday in regulation, they’ll get in as long as the Flyers lose one of their final three games.

“We win tonight and Detroit’s got one more game left in New York,” Brett Connolly said. “The pressure kind of switches a little bit and it will come down to one game. That’s what we’re hoping for. We’ve got to obviously take advantage of these two games.

“Our goal is to get into the playoffs, no matter how that is. If we can take care of the next two games, we’ll give ourselves a good chance to do that.”

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean
Brett Connolly

Brett Connolly

The Bruins are saving every ounce of energy they can for a technically-not-but-still-pretty-much must-win game against the Red Wings.

There was no morning skate or coach availability Thursday morning, as the majority of the team was told to stay home for the morning. Claude Julien, who usually meets with the media at 10:40 a.m. or 11 a.m. on game days, will speak to the media at 5:50 p.m. Players will be made available in the afternoon.

Coming off a 3-0 win over the Flyers Wednesday night, the Red Wings did not have a full morning skate. Goalie Petr Mrazek was on the ice, however, suggesting that Jimmy Howard will be in goal for Detroit for the second straight day. Howard had a 30-save shutout Wednesday.

The Red Wings have won the second game of back-to-backs just once in their last 10 attempts and the Bruins are 2-1-0 against Detroit this season.

The only Bruins to skate Thursday morning were rehabbing players Chris Kelly and Brett Connolly, the latter of whom said he is unsure as to whether he will play Thursday night. Connolly has missed the last three games with a lower-body injury suffered last week in a game against the Devils. Dennis Seidenberg has not skated since leaving Monday’s practice early.

Jimmy Hayes was also at the Garden Thursday morning after missing Wednesday’s practice with an undisclosed injury. Hayes also said he is unaware of his status.

The Red Wings can clinch the third spot in the Atlantic division with a regulation win over the Bruins Thursday night. There is no scenario in which the Bruins can be eliminated from playoff contention before Saturday, even if the Bruins lose in regulation and the Flyers beat the Maple Leafs in regulation or overtime Thursday night. The B’s could still be a wild card team in that scenario by winning their final game in regulation or overtime and having Philly drop its final two.

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean
Zdeno Chara

Zdeno Chara

WILMINGTON — The Bruins have had many moments over the last decade in which their leaders have found various ways to get whatever they could from their teammates.

Back in 2011, Shawn Thornton decorated the Bruins’ dressing room with old pictures of Bruins Stanley Cup moments and Mark Recchi brought in his Stanley Cup rings in an effort to motivate the B’s to bounce back from a Game 6 loss to the Lightning in the Eastern Conference finals and push their way to the Stanley Cup Final with a Game 7 win.

That’s a well-known example, but there are likely several others that haven’t made it out of the Bruins’ room: words of wisdom, pissed off speeches, etc.

The B’s are 2-7-1 in their last 10 games. They’ve slid out of a playoff spot and, with two games remaining in the regular season, need help from teams in front of them if they want to return to the postseason.

Though a tiny possibility exists that the B’s could make the playoffs even if they lose Thursday to the Red Wings (it would involve Detroit also beating Philly Wednesday and the Flyers then losing at least two of their final three games), Thursday is essentially a must-win.

So is this a time for optimism or a time for an angry captain?

“My job is, most of all, to lead by my play and the way I act,” Zdeno Chara told WEEI.com Wednesday. “It’s easy to be pointing fingers and easy to be saying, ‘Hey, I’m disappointed,’ and looking at the glass as half-empty, but the situation we’re in, that’s the way it is and we’ve got to make the best of it.” 

This is a team that was mighty proud of itself when it was on pace for a wild card spot at the All-Star break because it felt that many had counted them out prior to the season. If they thought they were exceeding expectations then, perhaps they’re meeting expectations now.

Whether the Bruins are what observers thought they were or are better and just underachieving, a playoff spot was within reach and the B’s have distanced themselves from it.

Chara’s not alone in preaching patience over frustration at this point. Old-school Bruins fans will find that to be a source of frustration in and of itself, as “just go out there and hit somebody” is a viable game plan to local devotees.

“Nobody likes losing,” Claude Julien said. “I don’t think it’s unique to the individual. You hope it’s unique to the group. That’s what we have to deal with: the fact that we’ve been through this and we’ve got to find a way to win hockey games.”

Whether they like losing or not, they’ve done quite a bit of it at the wrong time. Injuries have factored into some performances (most notably Sunday in Chicago), but the B’s have failed to take very attainable points from games against teams like Carolina in New Jersey.

Now the Bruins need to beat a Detroit team that stands in their way if they want a realistic shot of playing games past this weekend. They’ll either be up for the challenge or they’ll be out for a second straight season.

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean

WILMINGTON — There’s a common enough chain reaction in sports.

Management spends money. Management believes in money it’s spent. Team misses playoffs. Coach gets fired.

WILMINGTON — The Bruins recalled center Max Talbot from Providence on an emergency basis Wednesday. The ailing players to which the recall was tied were Jimmy Hayes and Tyler Randell, neither of whom were on the ice for Wednesday’s practice.

Claude Julien

Claude Julien

WILMINGTON — There’s a common enough chain reaction in sports.

Management spends money. Management believes in money it’s spent. Team misses playoffs. Coach gets fired.

Claude Julien is in his ninth season as Bruins head coach, and he is a loss or two away from missing the playoffs for the second consecutive season. He is not the primary problem with the team — there’s a very strong argument to be made that he’s ultimately one of its strengths — but canning the coach is often the perceived solution when things go wrong for a team with (at least some) good players.

Julien, who was fired by the Canadiens and Devils prior to coming to Boston, said after Wednesday’s practice that the possibility of losing his job with the B’s is not on his mind.

“I’m not answering those questions,” Julien said. “Every year I get the same thing, so I’m not even thinking about that.”

Julien has led the Bruins to two Stanley Cup Final appearances, a Cup championship and a Presidents’ Trophy in his time with the B’s. He’s also an assistant coach for Team Canada and is regarded as one of the handful of best hockey coaches in North America. If the Bruins were to move on from him, there’s a very good chance they would downgrade with their replacement.

Yet teams that lose seek change and it would be hard to expect the Bruins’ management to pass on picking their own guy two years in a row. Julien was a hire of former Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli, who was fired after the B’s missed the playoffs last season.

Furthermore, management’s moves at the trade deadline (keeping Loui Eriksson and trading for both Lee Stempniak and John-Michael Liles) made it clear that the intention for this season was to make a playoff run. Whether primarily Julien’s fault or not, a failure to do so would likely leave president Cam Neely looking to hold someone accountable.

General manager Sweeney declined an interview when approached by WEEI.com Wednesday, saying he’ll presumably speak on team matters toward or after the end of the regular season.

Julien was signed to a multi-year contract extension in November of 2014. If the Bruins fire him, they will have to pay him the money owed on his contract until he takes a job with another team. There is no longer draft pick compensation for fired coaches and executives, meaning the Bruins would not get a pick or picks if they were to move on from Julien.

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean

WILMINGTON — The Bruins recalled center Max Talbot from Providence on an emergency basis Wednesday. The ailing players to which the recall was tied seem to be Jimmy Hayes and Tyler Randell, neither of whom were on the ice for Wednesday’s practice.

Both Talbot and Brett Connolly, the latter of whom has missed the last three games due to a lower-body injury, practiced Wednesday. Dennis Seidenberg, who has missed the last three games with a lower-body injury, did not practice. He was last on the ice Monday, but got off the ice early.

All other defensemen were on the ice. The forward lines looked as such:

Marchand-Bergeron-Stempniak
Spooner-Krejci-Eriksson
Beleskey-Talbot/Kelly-Pastrnak
Vatrano-Acciari-Ferraro/Connolly

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean

Claude Julien went with statistics when choosing his participants for an important shootout Tuesday night. It’s easy to argue that he trusted different numbers than he should have.