BOSTON - Here it is -- the last home game of the regular season.
When the Bruins traveled to Prague in October, it seemed like this day would never come. But alas, it has and this afternoon, in the second to final game of the season, the Bruins will take on the Ottawa Senators.
While Boston has already clinched a playoff spot, they could still move up to No. 2 in the Eastern Conference, and likely won’t know their firs round opponent until Sunday night.
"No matter if we know already, I think it'simportant to get into [the] playoffs feeling good," forward Patriber Bergeron said. "There's still two games left and Ottawa is playing well right now, they beat Montreal and they play hard. It's going to be a tough game and we need to be ready."
The Bruins won’t slow down and are looking at the two points up for grabs in today’s match-up as key, both for their playoff seeding and momentum heading into the postseason.
“We have a lot to play for,” Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara
said. “Obviously we want to win those last two games and getting ready for the playoffs and going into the playoffs on the right note.”
But Boston can’t overlook the Senators who sit 13th in the Eastern Conference. Long out of reach of a playoff spot, Ottawa has a young team who have been playing well of late and are 6-3-1 in their last ten games.
“[Today] is their last game, so if you’re in their shoes, and you’re a young squad and you want to make a good impression, how do you play? And I think that’s what should be expected from Ottawa,” said head coach Claude Julien.
“They were skating hard, forechecking, backchecking and maybe they weren’t the most physical team, but the compete level was certainly there. And tomorrow that’s what we’re going to expect out of this hockey club, which should make it a real tough game for us.”
Bruins Not Thinking About Possible Playoff Opponent
With just two games remaining in the regular season, and their first round playoff opponent yet to be decided, the Bruins are not thinking about whom they may face mid-way through next week.
Montreal is the likely opponent, but Buffalo is close behind. However, Boston is more concerned with what they need to do to finish up the regular season on the right note.
“We’re ready for whatever and we don’t have a preference and that’s something important I think. We need to make sure we’re ready to play against any of those three of four teams,” Bergeron said.
While a few of the Bruins have admittedly been taking a peek at the standings, defenseman Zdeno Chara
says he doesn’t look and won’t think about their opponent until Sunday night.
“Whoever we play, we play. It’s something you can’t control, it’s out of your hands,” he said. “You just have to wait until everybody plays 82 games and then you’ll see the match-ups.”
If the playoffs were to start today, the Bruins would take on the Habs in the first round. But Buffalo currently sits tied in points with the Canadiens, just a win behind for sixth place in the conference. There’s also the possibility that Boston could take over the second spot in the East, meaning they’d play the seventh seed, which is currently the Sabres.
“That’s a lot of thinking and a lot of unnecessary thinking, in my mind. We know that the possibilities are there. You just have to sit back and watch and stay on top of things,” Julien said.
“The teams that are possible opponents, we’ve been watching for a while now and you jut have to wait and see what’s going to be and when it is decided, I know that we’re ready for either/or, as far as our scouting and everything else is concerned, so you just have to sit back and watch.”
While still remaining focused on the B’s final two regular season games, when it comes to playoff opponents, Bergeron is also in that sit-back-and-watch mode.
“We don’t know, but for now I think it’s making sure we worry about ourselves and we’ll know on Sunday night so it’s not that far ahead,” he said.
Coach Julien took it one step further.
“If you plan on winning a Stanley Cup, you better be prepared to beat anybody, he said. “And if you pick and chose it’s because you don’t feel confident about your hockey club.”
Bruins Participated in "Cuts for a Cause"
There’s a different look in the Bruins locker room today, but this time, it has nothing to do with the personnel occupying the dressing room stalls. Instead, you’ll see a bit less hair under the B’s helmets, and yes, that does include Adam McQuaid
Thursday, Shawn Thornton
and 98.5 The Sports Hub hosted the fourth annual “Cuts for a Cause” event. The event, which raised $42,722.35 for Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center, featured 16 Bruins getting their heads shaved.
The lucky few that got to shave the B’s hair were high bidders in the annual auction for shearing rights, along with patients from Floating Hospital.
Thornton, along with Chara, each brought in $1,500 for having their heads shaved. As the face of the event, Thornton’s shaving rights went to Izzy Santiago, a 9-year-old patient at Tufts.
“I’m ecstatic,” Thornton said after having his head shaved alongside 98.5 personalities Fred "Toucher" Toettcher and Rich Shertenlieb of the Toucher & Rich show.
“I guess it sold out in less than a day and all the bids, all the money we’ve raised this year, it’s bigger and bigger every year. I’m very flattered and thankful that the people are coming out,” said Thornton.
Thornton, Patrice Bergeron
, Zdeno Chara
, Andrew Ference
, Shane Hnidy, Nathan Horton
, Steve Kampfer, Chris Kelly
, David Krejci
, Milan Lucic
, Brad Marchand
, Adam McQuaid
, Daniel Paille
, Rich Peverley
, Tyler Seguin
and Dennis Seidenberg
had their heads shaved.
The remaining Bruins players that didn’t participate in the event each donated $400 dollars to the cause, to match the lowest bids, at the request of Thornton.
While some were more hesitant than others to look in the mirror, all the players were happy to participate and excited to see the fan response to the event.
“I didn’t know what to expect. I thought it could be a couple of people here who bought tickets to shave our heads, but there are a lot of fans out here and a lot of support and it’s nice to have,” B’s rookie Tyler Seguin
said before his cut.
“Obviously I’m doing it because it’s for a good cause, but I’m not a fan of shaving my head.”
, who has become known around Boston for his flowing black curls was talked into going with a mullet look, and hadn’t quite gotten used to it just minutes after many of his curls had fallen around him.
“I don’t know what to think,” said McQuaid. “Everyone else seemed to enjoy it and it was for a good cause and everyone had a good time with it, so we’ll see.”
While McQuaid’s haircut was one of the highlights of the day, there was no bigger star than Thornton, who while he wasn’t chirping his teammates on stage, mingled with the fans, signed autographs and greeted the Tufts patients present at the event.
“I don’t think you could pick a better guy to do it,” Brad Marchand
said of Thornton.
“He’s great with people and I think he really stepped up here and he’s doing a great thing for everyone. So anytime he needs help we’re always there for him and it really speaks to his character.”
The support of his teammates and the sentiment of their involvement in the annual event isn’t lost on Thornton.
“That’s the biggest thing honestly,” Thornton said. “It says a lot about our locker room, how many guys [participated]. It isn’t mandatory; it’s completely voluntary for all of the guys.
“I can’t thank them enough, we have an unbelievable group of guys and we’re a tight knit team and it shows with stuff like this.”
Today is Fan Appreciation Day
The Bruins will host "Fan Appreciation Day" during the Bruins/Senators contest at the TD Garden today in an effort to thank fans for their continued support throughout the 2010-11 season.
Immediately following this afternoon’s game, Bruins players will remain on the ice and throw t-shirts into the stands, then hand 23 fans that were chosen throughout the game the "Shirt off their Backs."
Each of these lucky Bruins fans will receive a sealed envelope containing the name of a current Bruins player they will meet that afternoon. After the t-shirt toss these fans will participate in the on-ice ceremony where they will meet and take home the game-worn autographed jersey of that player.
In addition to winning the "Shirts off their Backs," Bruins fans will enjoy an exciting day of giveaways. Upon arrival, every fan will receive a Bruins team poster courtesy of TD Bank.
Throughout the game, Bruins fans will have the opportunity to win a variety of prizes including VIP ticket packages, lunch with Rene Rancourt and a trip to the 2011 NHL awards in Las Vegas with flights on AirTran.
Player Profile: Shane Hnidy
Although Shane Hnidy has only played one game in a Bruins uniform this season, the Black & Gold sweater is nothing new to the blueliner.
Hnidy made his season debut on April 2 in the Bruins 3-2 victory over Atlanta, skating for 13:53 and recording three shots on goal and two penalty minutes.
In 548 career NHL games, the Neepawa, MB, Canada-native has 16-55-71 totals and 633 PIMs to go along with a plus-16 rating.
Hnidy, who was sidelined the majority of the season after suffering an injury this preseason, previously played three seasons with Boston before signing again with the Bruins on Feb. 26 as a free agent.
The 6-foot-2, 204-pound defenseman is in his 12th NHL season with his sixth team.
He played last season with the Minnesota Wild and had the best statistical year of his career with 2-12-14 totals and 66 PIMs in 70 games.
The 35-year-old was originally drafted in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft by the Buffalo Sabres in the seventh round (173rd overall).
Hnidy, who hopes to get into another Bruins game before season’s end (he was scratched the last two games), could provide valuable playoff experience for Boston as they head into the postseason.
In 37 career playoff games, Hnidy has 2-4-6 totals and 27 PIMs.