WILMINGTON – For many of the Bruins, their Wednesday evening plans have been set.
They will plop down on the couch and watch some hockey, with one game in particular of great interest: Detroit-Philadelphia at 8 p.m.
The Black & Gold sit tied with the Red Wings for the final playoff spot in the Atlantic Division with 91 points. And with the two teams set for a game of their own on Thursday, much will be on the line.
“I’ll probably watch pretty closely, for sure,” Patrice Bergeron said following Wednesday’s practice at Ristuccia Arena.
“We’re all going to look at our phones or computer, TV, and refresh our pages every five minutes. That’s one of those things where, at the same time, you have to be ready and focused for tomorrow.”
With the game set to have major implications on the standings, the Bruins will be watching not only out of curiosity but also to get familiar with their next opponent.
“We do that all the time when we’re about to play a team,” said Julien. “That’s called pre-scouting, but no doubt there’s some interest there for the pre-scout purpose and hopefully, cross our fingers, that we get a little bit of a break here.”
The Bruins need that break after their 2-1 shootout loss to Carolina Tuesday night took away the ability to control their playoff fate. Winning out no longer guarantees them a spot in the postseason.
“It’s nothing new for us, but it’s definitely not ideal,” said Tuukka Rask. “We have to focus on trying to win the hockey game and move forward from there.
“Obviously we’ve had 80 games to be in control of our own destiny and now it’s not totally up to us. It is what it is, but we just have to focus on our own team.”
Despite the pressure now ratcheted up for the regular season’s final two games, the Bruins are embracing the opportunity – and the challenge – that lies ahead.
“You have to be confident and believe,” said Bergeron. “But at the same time there’s no more chances here. This is our last chance and we have to seize it and go out there and do it.”
Zdeno Chara’s defensive instincts always bring him back to the house. He returns to the net-front area to help Tuukka Rask in any way he can.
And on Tuesday night, on a play that flew a bit under the radar, Chara did just that.
With under two minutes remaining in regulation and the score tied at 1, Bret Pesce’s shot from the top of the slot trickled through Rask. But Chara was there to sweep the puck out of the crease – and ultimately secure the Bruins a crucial point in the standings.
“I was just really trying to go back and be there for either when Tuukka freezes the puck or [the possibility] that things like that happen,” said Chara. “I was just glad that I was there in time and before their player got to it. I was able to shoot the puck into safety but that’s what sometimes you need, secondary saves.
“Tuukka made some unbelievable saves for us, especially early in the game that kept us in the game. So that was nice to get it back for him once in a while.”
Forward Max Talbot was recalled from Providence on an emergency basis Wednesday morning. Talbot last played an NHL game for the Bruins on Feb. 20 in Dallas and could be called upon Thursday night against Detroit.
“That’s why he’s here,” said Julien, when asked if there was a possibility that Talbot may be in the lineup.
“As usual, we’ve got a lot of guys here banged up, so he’s here for that reason.”
Talbot has registered two goals and four assists in 36 games for Boston this season.
Going Day By Day
Brett Connolly returned to practice Wednesday, while Dennis Seidenberg, Jimmy Hayes, and Tyler Randell missed the session.
“We’re going day by day with some of those guys,” said Julien. “If I say possible, it sounds optimistic; if I say questionable, it sounds pessimistic. Basically we’ll probably end up figuring it out tomorrow.”
With the uncertainty up front, Ryan Spooner practiced on the wing alongside David Krejci and Loui Eriksson.
“He’s played wing before, so we put him there today trying to see what that could create, too,” said Julien. “We’ll see again and a lot of that stuff will depend on who’s in, who’s out tomorrow.”
Wednesday’s Practice Combinations
Gold: Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – Lee Stempniak
White: Ryan Spooner – David Krejci – Loui Eriksson
Gray: Matt Beleskey – Chris Kelly – Max Talbot – David Pastrnak
Maroon: Landon Ferraro – Frank Vatrano - Noel Acciari – Brett Connolly
Zdeno Chara – Kevan Miller
John-Michael Liles – Colin Miller
Torey Krug – Adam McQuaid
Zach Trotman – Joe Morrow