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Pregame Notebook vs. Chicago

by Hannah Becker / Boston Bruins
BostonBruins.com -  Welcome to the post-season, folks.


With Boston’s 2-1 victory over Philadelphia on Sunday night, the Bruins cemented their spot in the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoff race, becoming the fourth Eastern Conference team to do so.

With just seven games remaining in the regular season, the Bruins have a bit of time to work out some kinks in their system and get everyone prepared for what the post-season will bring.

Entering tonight’s match-up with the defending Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks, the Bruins sit in third place in the Eastern Conference, seven points ahead of Montreal with a game in hand, for the Northeast Division lead.

Montreal has just six games remaining and it seems unlikely they’ll surpass Boston in the Division race, which gives the Bruins a good chance at home-ice advantage to begin the playoffs.

Meanwhile, Boston is four points with a game in hand behind the second place Washington Capitals and six-points with a game in hand being the East-leading Flyers.

As all three organizations have clinches play-off berths, the door is open for what could happen in the final three weeks of the regular season.

Bruins Remain on Track
After Sunday night’s victory punched Boston’s postseason ticket for the fourth consecutive season, it would be easy for the B’s to sit back and rest up for the remainder of the regular season.

Lucic
But according the B’s Head Coach Claude Julien, Boston will continue to work hard and fight for points in the remaining seven games of the season, hoping to move even farther up in the Eastern Conference standings, into second or first place.

"I think it's business as usual," Julien said after the B’s practice yesterday afternoon.

"But it's nice to clinch with more than just a game or two left in the season.

"Right now, as I mentioned yesterday, the challenge is going to be to keep our game going in the right direction and not get complacent or comfortable and hopefully head into the playoffs with confidence and a team firing on all cylinders."

Julien's message was not lost on his locker room.

"We've been able to clinch a playoff spot with [seven] games left," said forward Milan Lucic. "We're definitely happy about that.

"We want to make sure that we don't coast into the playoffs.

Obviously, playoff seeding is what the regular season is all about, and Lucic and the B's are ready to stay focused as they finish the 2010-11 campaign and work toward the Northeast Division crown.

"Definitely, it's what you play for," said Lucic. "You always seem to find that second wind.

"It is a grind going through an 82-game season and it's definitely a lot of fun when you're tops in the division like this."

"It's always a good feeling," said Bergeron of clinching the postseason.

"But there's seven games left and it's just one step towards our goal.

"At the beginning of the year [the goal is] to get into the playoffs and then anything can happen, so we're happy we clinched, but at the same time we didn't clinch the division yet.

"So, it's still a goal of ours and we'd be happy to do that in the next seven games and, you know, it's games that we need to make sure we play well heading into the playoffs."

Chicago’s Race for the Postseason
While Boston has already clinched, the same can’t be said for the Blackhawks, who are still in a tight race to make the playoffs in the Western Conference.

Boston Bruins vs. Chicago Blackhawks 03.07.09
Currently Chicago sits eighth in the West with 90 points, but with just seven points separating the fourth and tenth place teams, the rankings are open for Chicago to move up, or down.

Last night, the Blackhawks came away with a 3-2 overtime victory against second-place Detroit, giving Chicago a much-needed two points.

Chicago has two more games left to play against the Red Wings this season, a home-and-home series to conclude the season.

If the season were to end today, the Blackhawks would take on the Vancouver Canucks in the first round.

The Canucks are the only Western Conference team that has clinched a playoff berth.

Of the Blackhawks seven remaining games, five of them are against play-off teams and three of those games are against Eastern Conference opponents.

Entering tonight’s game, Chicago is 9-4-2 against the East.

Tonight, the Blackhawks look to take their first step towards guaranteeing a playoff spot, taking on Boston.

The Original Six match-up will be broadcast live on VERSUS, and marks the only time these two teams will meet this season.

Playoff Tickets On Sale Tomorrow
The Boston Bruins announced last week that tickets for the club's first three home playoff games of the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs will go on sale at 11:00 a.m. ET on Wednesday, March 30.

Tickets will be available for purchase at the TD Garden Box Office, on www.bostonbruins.com, and via phone by calling Ticketmaster at
800.745.3000.

The Bruins currently sit in first place in the Northeast Division and nthird place of the Eastern Conference.  The dates and times for the playoff games will be determined by the National Hockey League once the final seeding for the Stanley Cup Playoffs is set.

The purchase price for single game tickets for a Boston Bruins playoff game at the TD Garden in a given round of the playoffs that is NOT played because the round has been concluded will be refunded in full, including any associated fees. Any refunds will be issued to the same method of payment as the original purchase.

If the season were to end today, Boston would have home-ice advantage and would face the Canadiens in the first round.

Player Profile: Brad Marchand
Bruins rookie Brad Marchand has surprised almost everyone in the Hub of Hockey, including himself.

Boston Bruins' Brad Marchand (63) reacts after scoring the go-ahead goal past Philadelphia Flyers' Brian Boucher (33) and Kimmo Timonen (44), of Finland, in the third period of an NHL hockey game, Sunday, March 27, 2011, in Philadelphia. Boston won 2-1. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
The 22-year-old rookie began this season on an NHL roster for the first time in his young career.

Prior to the beginning of the season, Marchand predicted he would net ten goals. As of today, ‘Marshy’ is at 20 and counting.

The 5-foot-9, 183-pound forward scored his 20th goal of the season on Sunday night becoming the first B’s rookie to complete the feat since Blake Wheeler did it in the 2008-09 season.

The goal was also the game-winner in the Bruins’ 2-1 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers, and clinched a playoff berth for Boston.

Marchand has collected 20-17-37 scoring totals in 70 NHL games this season, including five multiple-point games.

His scoring has also been a positive sign for Bruins success as the B’s are 16-1-1 when Marchand scores.

The Halifax, NS, Canada native also finds himself among NHL rookie leaders in multiple statistical categories.

His 37 points put him eighth in the league in rookie scoring, while his 20 goals place him fifth among rookies.

Marchand has four shorthanded goals this season, second among rookies only to the Islanders’ Michael Grabner.

He is also second among rookies in plus/minus with a plus-25 rating. B’s defenseman Adam McQuaid leads that category with a plus-28.

Marchand has become known as an agitator as he began the season on the Bruins ‘energy’ line, and successfully got under opponents skin.

After beginning the season on the energy line, Marchand has moved up to Boston’s second line skating alongside Mark Recchi and Patrice Bergeron.

Marchand has also become a valuable component to Boston’s power play and penalty killing units.

The rookie also recorded his first NHL fight on Feb. 27 as he took on Edmonton’s Jim Vandermeer.
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