There’s plenty at stake tonight when the Bruins host the Panthers at TD Garden.
Just ask Claude Julien.
“I don’t think you should be breathing easy and I don’t think anybody in there has been breathing easy,” the B’s head coach said, per CSNNE. “I think it’s just one of those things where we know where we’re at. We know what we have to do here we just have to stay with the task at hand here, and keep focusing on what we need to do.
“Dave [Krejci] said it, and we’re not denying that either: ‘It’s almost like a game seven tonight.’ A lot of stuff can happen one way or another here depending on the outcome.”
A loss tonight would be damaging for Boston, and virtually fatal for Florida. The Panthers head into tonight’s action four points back of the Bruins for the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, with just six games remaining in the regular season. But the Panthers also hold the benefit of playing the B’s twice more down the stretch — tonight, and again on Apr. 9.
To make that second chance worth something, though, Florida has to get a result this evening.
“We’re playing well and we’ve got to play well again tonight,” head coach Gerard Gallant said, per the team’s website. “It’s going to be two hungry teams looking for the two points.”
Florida should have confidence heading into this tilt, having secured three of a possible four points from Boston in the first two matchups of the season. That includes a 2-1 shootout victory on Mar. 21, one in which Roberto Luongo stopped 26 of 27 shots and all three shootout attempts.
Luongo will draw back in tonight after sitting out Sunday’s win over Ottawa — veteran Dan Ellis got the victory — and look to continue his solid run of play against the Bruins this year, having posted a 1.40 GAA and .942 save percentage in just under 130 minutes of action.
The Boston Bruins have dipped into the college free agent market, agreeing to terms with Miami senior Austin Czarnik on an entry-level deal.
Czarnik, 22, is a former Hobey Baker finalist and the second-leading assist man in RedHawks history. He’s captained the club in each of the last two seasons and should have some immediate chemistry in Boston, as Reilly Smith was Czarnik’s former linemate at Miami during the 2011-12 campaign.
Though undersized — listed at 5-foot-9, 167 pounds — Czarnik is a skilled player that can create for others. He finished tied for third in the country in assists this year, with 36.
Per TSN’s Bob McKenzie, there appeared to be a number of NHL clubs interested in securing Czarnik’s services. It’s interesting to note that Boston won out shortly after it was linked to another skilled, undersized forward — Columbus’ Cam Atkinson — at the March trade deadline.
Fearing the jinx isn’t a trait of every sports fan, yet it’s present in many minds. You just don’t do things like announcing a championship parade route before the Fat Lady Sings.
The nail-biting subsection of Boston Bruins fans probably aren’t too happy that the team announced that first-round playoff tickets will go on sale on Friday, then.
Putting playoff tickets on sale might just be a matter of good business, yet some will see it as a sign of hubris.
This weekend definitely opened the door for a little overconfidence, after all. Just considering Sunday alone: the Bruins’ playoff odds jumped up almost 20 percent to 72.7 percent while the Ottawa Senators’ chances plummeted by almost 30 to 25.3 percent, according to Sports Club Stats. It’s the kind of swing that would have bolder fans puffing out their chests a bit.
Anxious Bruins fans should at least feel like they have company. TSN’s Steve Lloyd made a reference to Ottawa’s concerns about a Sens Mile celebration jinxing the team when he heard about Boston’s upcoming ticket drive.
(More on that here and here.)
Does any of it really matter, though? Well, it probably depends upon whom you ask.
Bruins’ rookie David Pastrnak scored with 37 seconds remaining in overtime as Boston doubled up the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1.
Pastrnak finished with a goal and an assist.
The Bruins win gives them a three-point cushion on the Ottawa Senators in the wild card race. Boston is also just three points back of the Washington Capitals for the first wild card spot.
Boston has now won two straight after going six in a row without a win.
Ryan Spooner opened the scoring with his seventh of the season at 2:21 of the first period. Nathan Gerbe tied the game 1-1 with less than a minute remaining in the second.
Boston improved to 5-8-2 in the second half of back-to-backs after a 4-2 win over the New York Rangers on Saturday.
Tuukka Rask, who left Saturday’s game due to a migrane, made 30 saves to improve to 31-19-12 with the win.
Anton Khudobin stopped 28 shots in the loss.
The Bruins’ win officially eliminated both the New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia Flyers from postseason contention.
The Boston Bruins leave Saturday’s game with their own concerns regarding their top goalie, but they made life difficult for the New York Rangers’ returning No. 1 this afternoon.
After taking a 3-0 lead, the Bruins cruised to a 4-2 win that was probably more lopsided than the score indicated.
Again, plenty of thoughts revolve around Tuukka Rask’s status; the Bruins haven’t been particularly forthcoming regarding his condition. Niklas Svedberg was able to maintain Boston’s lead after taking over early in the second period, yet considering the Bruins’ thin grasp on a wild card spot (Ottawa can go right back ahead by beating the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight), this is a worrisome situation.
On the bright side, the Bruins looked strong for much of this game, as it would be unfair to blame the loss totally on a rusty Henrik Lundqvist.
(That said, it was clear that Lundqvist was rusty.)
The B’s place in the postseason is shaky – Ottawa can knock them back out of the wild card ranks by beating the lowly Toronto Maple Leafs tonight – but this is still a big win.
Note: An earlier version of this post mentioned that Boston’s win clinched for Montreal, but that is not true.