BostonBruins.com - At the conclusion of last night's NHL schedule, the Eastern Conference playoff picture looked a bit different than it had just a few hours prior to puck drop.
Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Washington and Montreal all took home victories, while Philadelphia and Tampa Bay stumbled.
The Capitals 3-2 shootout win over Toronto, pushed the Maple Leafs out of the playoff picture, and secured their own shot on top of the Southeast Division. The win also guaranteed Washington home-ice in the first round, and catapulted them ahead of Philadelphia for first place in the Eastern Conference.
As Philadelphia continues to slip late in the season, and if Pittsburgh keeps winning, it’s not out of the question that the Penguins could slip past the Flyers and take control of the Atlantic Division.
Pittsburgh sits only a single point behind Philadelphia in the division with two games to play. Should the Penguins overtake the reigning Eastern Conference Champions, the Flyers would slip to fourth place in the conference.
The Buffalo Sabres also defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-2 last night, leapfrogging them over the idle New York Rangers into seventh place in the conference. The Rangers cling to the eighth spot four points ahead of ninth place Carolina, who has a game in hand over New York.
Montreal’s 2-1 overtime victory against Chicago last night, guaranteed the Canadiens a playoff spot.
Tonight, as the Bruins take on the Islanders in TD Garden, Boston will look to continue to climb up in the ever-changing Eastern Conference playoff picture.
Boston could still reach the No. 2 spot. Currently they sit in third, four points behind second place Philadelphia, but most likely out-of-reach of the first place Capitals, six points ahead of Boston.
B's Take a Lesson
After Monday night’s collapse against the Rangers, the Bruins are looking to take the only thing they can out of the game: a lesson.
|In this photo taken Monday, April 4, 2011, Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas (30) makes a save on a shot by New York Rangers' Ryan Callahan (24) during the second period of an NHL hockey game at Madison Square Garden, N.Y. Callahan is out indefinitely after breaking his right leg in the game, just as New York is making a final push for an Eastern Conference playoff spot, the team announced Tuesday, |
Boston was up three goals to none, when New York went on an offensive tear, lighting the lamp five unanswered times.
“It could be a bit of a wake-up call. It’s definitely something we need to touch up on, is we need that full 60 minute effort because for the first 30 minutes we played exactly the way we wanted to play,” Bruins left-winger Milan Lucic
The comeback highlighted issues with the Bruins’ back end and following the game, Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien wasn’t pleased with his team’s effort.
“When we took that three-nothing lead, all of a sudden guys decided to go back and start getting cute and not doing the simple things, and that’s what normally happens,” he said after the game.
“So at this stage in the season, you hope that it’s a real good lesson that we learn tonight, that if you don’t want to respect the game plan for sixty minutes, those things are going to happen.”
Yesterday, at Boston’s afternoon practice in Ristuccia Memorial Arena, the B’s addressed the issues uncovered in Monday’s affair.
“I think we, as a group, we have to learn from that incident yesterday. Part of it, as I mentioned after the game, you need to respect the game plan for 60 minutes. We didn’t do that, so you hope that it becomes a valuable lesson from here until the end of the season. Maybe at one point we’ll go back to that situation and realize that we can’t get comfortable.
The Bruins will learn the lesson, but the true question lies in if the learning curve is too steep for Boston to climb with just three games left in the regular season.
“Lessons are to be learned all the time,” Julien said.
“You always have an opportunity to grow with these kind of things and I think our group has. It’s probably not a bad time to get this kind of lesson because it will be fresh in our minds.”
Despite Boston’s secured place in the postseason, it’s not improbable that the B’s could jump ahead to second or even first in the Eastern Conference. The Bruins are just four points behind Philadelphia and Washington (tied for first) with six points remaining up for grabs.
But with each of their remaining three opponents out of the playoff race, it’s up to Boston to get up for the rest of their season and build momentum heading into the postseason.
“Hopefully we learned that lesson last game,” Lucic said. “That we can’t let the foot off the gas pedal and we have to keep pushing for more.”
Thornton Nominated for Masterton Trophy
The Boston chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association has nominated Bruins forward Shawn Thornton
for the 2011 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.
“I’m very flattered. I don’t take that lightly; I think it’s a pretty big award. I don’t know how far it’s going to go. Just even being nominated, I really appreciate it,” Thornton said.
The Masterton Trophy is given to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.
“One of the most popular Bruins in recent memory, Thornton's perseverance in the pursuit of his NHL dreams and dedication to the community embody exactly what the Masterton Trophy is designed to honor,” said Joe Haggerty, PHWA Boston chapter chairman and Bruins beat reporter for CSNNE.com.
Before Thornton earned a Stanley Cup ring with the Anaheim Ducks, he had spent nine seasons between the Toronto and Chicago organizations trying to earn a full-time NHL role. Thornton was traded to the Bruins following his Stanley Cup victory and since has become a mainstay in Boston’s lineup. This season Thornton has achieved career highs in goals and points (9-9-18), but without compromising the physical aspect of his game that he is known for. Thornton leads the team in penalty minutes with 122.
“You have to take a step back, it’s a little bit humbling. I wasn’t expecting it so when I heard about it I was pretty excited,” Thornton said of his nomination.
A leader off the ice as well as on, the Charlestown, MA year-round resident received the 2010 John Bucyk Award for his community contributions. Last summer, Thornton organized the first annual “Putts and Punches for Parkinson's” golf tournament to raise money for the American Parkinson Disease Association. Thornton is also a key player in the annual Cuts for A Cause charity event, where fans bid to shave participating Bruins’ heads and the funds are donated to the Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center.
Seguin: Playoff Ready?
With 72 NHL games under his belt and increased minutes and responsibility of late, whether or not B’s rookie Tyler Seguin
is ready to perform in the postseason is a question the Bruins coaching staff will have to face.
With just three regular season games remaining, and an extra forward on the roster, someone will be in for Boston--and someone will have to sit out.
“I can’t stand here and say he’s in and I’m not going to say he’s out,” Julien said of the possibility of Seguin playing in the postseason.
“I think we’re going to keep seeing him play and the one thing I can tell you is I feel in the last month, month in a half, he’s taken some good strides in regard to feeling more confident about his game.
“Like any other young players there are better games than others, but certainly he’s built more confidence in his game for himself and even for us watching him, than he had in the first half and that’s a good sign.”
Other possibilities to be left off of Boston’s postseason roster come in Michael Ryder and Daniel Paille
. Paille has played in just 40 games for the Bruins, but recently has re-entered the line-up and shown that he can be a play-off asset.
Ryder has been a recent scratch, but coach Julien has said that his scoring touch is a valuable asset in the postseason.
Still, the 19-year-old Seguin’s natural skill is an attractive quality, and his recent play alongside linemates Chris Kelly
and Rich Peverley
bodes well the rookie.
“We’re certainly not questioning his skill level, it’s more the experience and playing with the caliber of players he’s playing against now and the strength of these players compared to junior players,” Julien said.
“He’s got to get that confidence and be able to understand that he can still go in the corners and come out with the puck. He doesn’t have to run anybody over, but you have to have that confidence and we’ve seen him get better in that area.”
Player Profile: Daniel Paille
Although he’s been in and out of Boston’s line-up all season, B’s forward Daniel Paille
remains a key component on the Bruins roster.
|Boston Bruins left wing Daniel Paille (20) goes airborne as he collides with Florida Panthers defenseman Dmitry Kulikov , of Russia, during the first period of their NHL hockey game in Boston, Thursday, Nov. 18, 2010. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) |
In his 7th
NHL season, the 6-foot, 200 pound winger, has played in 40 games, most of which have come with Boston’s grinding fourth line. With three games remaining in the season, Paille has a 5-6-11 scoring line.
The Bruins are 6-2-1 when Paille records a point and seven of his 11 points have come on home ice.
Recently, as Boston prepares for the postseason, Paille has been using his recent increase in ice time as a bit of an audition for the Bruins’ playoff roster.
“We originally had him pegged as a real good winger on that line at the beginning of the year, that could give it some speed, some forecheck and create some good opportunities and what I think you’re starting to see now is exactly that,” coach Julien said.
“His game has really picked up and picked up at the right time.”
In fourteen career playoff games, split between Buffalo and Boston, Paille has recorded just two assists.
The 26-year-old had best statistical season in the 07-08 campaign with the Sabres, recording a 19-16-35 scoring line in 77 games.
This season, the Welland, Ontario native has reached multiple career milestones including registering his first career fighting major when he took on Ottawa’s Matt Carkner on Jan. 11.
Paille, who was originally drafted by the Sabres in the first round (20th overall) of the 2002 NHL Entry Draft, played in his 300th NHL game on March 10, against Buffalo and recorded his 100th NHL point with an assists on Jan.1 in Buffalo.