BOSTON - The Bruins capped off 2016 with a 3-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday afternoon at TD Garden, and they're hoping to carry that play into the new year.
Through the first 39 games of the season, the Black & Gold racked up 44 points - good for third place in the Atlantic Division, and a playoff spot.
With the halfway point just around the corner, and a game on tap for Monday night in New Jersey against the Devils, the Bruins are fairly satisfied with their effort, while consistently looking to improve as the second half of 2016-17 commences.
"I think we're performing. I can't be dissatisfied," Head Coach Claude Julien said following the Bruins' practice on Sunday at Warrior Ice Arena. "I think there's a lot of things to be satisfied about with our hockey club."
"Right from the start of the season, we've improved and we continue to try and get better and that's part of our job. I consider ourselves a fairly young team - we've got some veterans and I get that, but we have a fairly young team, a lot of young players inserted into our lineup this year, so it's a work in progress, and I think that progress is coming along."
Captain Zdeno Chara is eyeing the win column.
"I think that it's important, especially at this time of the year, that you gather some wins and put some wins together," said Chara. "If you're able to do that, you separate yourself from the rest of the field and build yourself some cushion - it's always nice to have."
"But at the same time, we can't be looking too much ahead. Obviously the next game is the most important game, and we know that every team is at least capable of beating anybody on any given night, so we have to be really ready and really focused."
"Every game, we have to give our best."
The Bruins have not been deficient in resiliency this season. While having to come from behind is never the ideal circumstance, they've shown that they can do it - and that alone builds confidence.
As the Captain and his teammates look to 2017, they know that every point will be crucial.
"As many wins as possible," said Chara, when asked what he's looking forward to in the new year. "[And] the least amount of injuries as possible."
"I mean, that's all you play for - you want to win, and you want to be healthy, and you want to have success. I think that we all want to have good performances and compete out there and play with a lot of passion."
"I think that when we do that, everybody's going to be pleased with that."
Most importantly, those wins and points will hopefully push them into the playoffs.
"I'm hoping  brings success for everyone throughout the whole locker room," said Frank Vatrano. "And health, obviously. We've had some trouble in this room with health, so I think if we can stay off the injuries and all of that stuff, I think we'll be a good team."
'Playoffs in the future?,' Vatrano was asked as a follow-up.
"We'll see. Hopefully," he smiled.
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