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Practice Notebook: Bruins Season Coming Down to the Wire

by Eric Russo / Boston Bruins

WILMINGTON – When the season kicked off in early October, the Bruins no doubt believed they would be playing postseason hockey.

That optimism and hope still remains.

But if the Bruins are to secure a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, they will have to win the regular season finale against Ottawa – and hope for some other games to fall their way.

“You’re kind of wondering who did the schedule and how does it happen like that?” Max Talbot said after the Bruins practice Friday afternoon at Ristuccia Arena.

“It makes for fun hockey, excitement, and I think it’s good for the game.”

A win over the Senators would go a long way for the Bruins in their quest to qualify for the playoffs. But it does not guarantee them a spot.

Detroit, which is tied with the Bruins for the third and final playoff position in the Atlantic Division, plays the New York Rangers Saturday. And Philadelphia, which sits 1 point back of the Bruins for the second wild card spot has two games remaining, Saturday against Pittsburgh and Sunday against the New York Islanders.

If the Bruins win and the Red Wings or Flyers lose, Boston qualifies. For the rest of the scenarios, click here.

“You’ve just got to do your job,” said Matt Beleskey. “If we get it done, then it’s kind of up and out of our hands, so it’s a different feeling obviously — it’s not something you want to have, but we’ve got to worry about taking care of business and then see what happens. “

“It’s exciting that we still have a chance,” added coach Claude Julien. “Obviously we have to win a hockey game and we have to bring the type of game we had yesterday against Detroit.

“So if we do that, I like our chances, and you’ve got to hope for maybe, as I mentioned before, somewhere along the way, a little break here or there.”

A victory will be no easy task for the Bruins. The Senators, although out of the playoff picture, will have nothing to lose in their effort to be spoilers.

“There’s no pressure on them, there’s no doubt,” said Julien. “They played a very solid game last night against Florida [in a 3-1 victory]. Just goes to show us that no matter what the situations are at this time of the year, there are no easy games.

“There’s a lot of pride. There’s a lot of players playing for jobs. There’s a lot of reasons for every team to want to win hockey games. And no doubt, if I was in their shoes, I’d say, ‘let’s finish on a winning note here.’

“So a lot of reasons for them to be motivated for this and hopefully a lot more reasons for us to be motivated for it.”

A Calming Presence

Talbot has played in his share of do-or-die games over his 11-year NHL career. He knows all about pressure and intensity.

History shows he has handled it all pretty well, especially if you were to consider his performance in Game 7 of the 2009 Stanley Cup Final, when he scored both Pittsburgh goals in a 2-1 Cup-clinching victory over Detroit.

With the Bruins’ playoff hopes riding on the regular-season finale against Ottawa, Talbot, who was recalled from Providence earlier this week on an emergency basis, brings crucial experience.

“Just focus on ourselves,” said Talbot, who played 12 minutes, 37 seconds in the Bruins 5-2 win over Detroit Thursday.

“It’s pretty simple. I think you’ve got to block the outside distraction and just focus on the task at hand, which is to get the 2 points on Saturday. “

Talbot also preached the importance of not going out of the way to change his approach.

“Just be myself, you know,” said Talbot. “Try and be the best I can be on the ice and do what I do off the ice. It’s pretty simple, in a way – so just be myself, work hard and try to be ready for tomorrow.”

The veteran presence Talbot provides also adds to his value on the ice, where he centered Beleskey and David Pastrnak on Thursday night.

“He’s won a Cup, he knows how to play the game, plays the game right,” said Beleskey. “He’s been doing good down in Providence and working hard and he came in and moved in perfectly.

“He’s a guy that works hard, can get in on the forecheck and can kind of grind teams a little bit.”

Just Winging It

It had been a while since Ryan Spooner, normally the Bruins third-line center, lined up on the wing. But on Thursday night, he played the left wing alongside David Krejci and Loui Eriksson.

Spooner assisted on Eriksson’s third-period tally, but acknowledged he still has to shore up his play along the boards.

“Bit of a change, I need some work on the rims and stuff like that. I thought as a whole it was OK,” said Spooner.

“Just got to get to the open ice, that was pretty much what I wanted to do. It’s a little bit different when you’re playing the wing, you’re standing still a little more.”

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