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Bruins Focused on Keeping it Simple in 'Biggest Game of the Year'

by Jess Isner / Boston Bruins

SUNRISEBrad Marchand said the Bruins’ job is simple if they want to take care of business on Thursday night against the Panthers.

Just play the way they are supposed to play.

“It seems like when we play simple and physical and we play tight, then we’re a really good team,” he said at BB&T arena on Thursday afternoon. “When we start getting stretched out and we’re missing little assignments, then mistakes can cost you goals, and ultimately games.

“So I think we’ve all got to make sure we’re really focused on playing our part, not doing anyone else’s job, and believing in each other.”

And that is something the Bruins still have — belief in each other, in the system, in this team.

“We do have the team — we’ve seen it in there throughout the season,” said defenseman Dennis Seidenberg. “But tonight is a night we have to bring it, and be focused and play for 60 minutes.”

That commitment was not there for the Bruins in their most recent game, a 3-0 loss at the hands of the Capitals on Wednesday night. They got off to a slow start, and although they improved as the game went on, it was too little too late.

Obviously, they know the commitment needs to be there right from the start against Florida on Thursday night.

“I think the big thing is we’re obviously going to have to try and control the tempo early and get the momentum,” Marchand said. “It’s big to have the momentum early in the game, and if we can get a goal, obviously that would be great, but we want to make sure we’re playing the right kind of hockey — we’re playing our system, we’re not turning pucks over at the bluelines, we’re playing a physical game.”

With just two games remaining on the regular-season docket, the Bruins understand the importance of the game they will play at BB&T Center. They’ve been preaching it for a while now, but this one truly is their biggest game of the season. With a win, they get a step closer to clinching a berth in the postseason, and there won’t be many more chances after this one.

“We still control our own destiny, and I think we’re all focused and excited about tonight,” Marchand said. “It’s obviously a big game, and it’s in our hands, so we wanted to move on right after the game [Wednesday night] and kind of forget about that.

“At this point of the year, you’ve got to be able to drop games and look at the next one, and it’s almost like a playoff situation where you can’t control anything after it happens, and you’ve just got to worry about the next one. So tonight — it’s been like this for a while, but it’s the biggest game of the year. We know that, and we’re excited for it.”

Of course, there is a fine line between understanding the importance of the game and still being loose enough to execute. That is the balance the Bruins will have to achieve against Florida in order to get the results they want.

“We need to go out there and play and be excited like you want to win the game, not about being afraid to lose,” said Head Coach Claude Julien. “I think the mindset is really important tonight for our team. That’s the part that we have to get in order to have some success, is go out there and enjoy yourself and play the game like you’re excited to play it and you want to win.”

And despite the fact that other games being played around the league on Thursday and Friday could have an impact on Boston’s destiny, the Bruins prefer not to consider that. As they have repeated ad nauseam over the last several days, they control their own destiny as of now, and they prefer to keep it that way.

“Our focus is 100 percent on tonight’s game,” said captain Zdeno Chara. “We’ll see what’s going to happen, but we are not in a position where we can rely on or hope for other teams to do the job for us. So we have to really manage ourselves and play our best game.

“I do believe that we have a good enough team to play a really strong game tonight, and obviously [in] the last game of the regular season [on Saturday], and like I said, tonight’s the biggest game.”

Each game Boston has played against Florida in 2014-15 has been a battle. Each of the three contests has been decided by one goal. The Bruins are expecting that once again, on Thursday night, there will be no room for error, just like in the last three.

“We’ve got a lot of really good leadership in there that we can follow going into games like tonight,” Marchand said. “You see it every night — the leaders stepping up and taking control of the room — and we’re going to need that again tonight and have everyone stepping up on the ice."

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