|Bruins winger Mark Recchi. (Getty)|
WILMINGTON -- With the All-Star break now in their rearview mirror, the Boston Bruins will get back to work this evening down in Raleigh, where they'll take on the Carolina Hurricanes.
For winger Mark Recchi, today will be doubly significant. The veteran forward will celebrate his 43rd birthday.
"No, I don't have a birthday coming up," Recchi jokingly replied following B's practice on Monday afternoon. "I feel great. It's just another day, another birthday. It's a [expletive] when you turn 35. The four days off were great and hopefully this will help me out down the stretch drive."
During that stretch drive, Recchi believes the biggest key for the B's is to strive for consistency.
"We know this a process, 82 games," he said. "There's 50 down and 32 to go. We're getting more consistent and we're getting better at it, and that's what we have to continue to do. We're slowly getting there and we knew it would take time."
While nearly two months stand between now and the start of the postseason, Recchi said players always recognize that the playoffs are looming and crunch time is upon them when the All-Star weekend wraps up.
"You know it's starting to get close to the playoffs," he said. "You want to be coming into the playoffs in full gear, with everybody flying and everyone consistent. I think the first half is building an identity for your team and trying to grow that identity. We've done a pretty decent job of it and now we have to continue it."
Expectations are now fairly high for the B's -- both inside and outside of their locker room -- as they'll head into the second half of the campaign sitting in third in the Eastern Conference.
"We expect a lot of things from us," Recchi said. "We've got a four-point edge in our division. If we take care of our business, we feel like we can be the top team or one of the top teams in the conference. The important thing is to build for the playoffs and get ready for that."
One of the main reasons the Bruins now hold a four-point lead over the Canadiens in the Northeast Division has been the play of center Patrice Bergeron, who Recchi has flanked for nearly the entirety of his tenure in Boston.
Upon learning that Bergeron was named as the First Star of the Month for January, as No. 37 racked up 17 points in 14 games, Recchi said the NHL couldn't have made a better choice.
"He deserves it," the future Hall of Fame forward said. "He's one of the best two-way players in the game, if not the top two-way guy in the game right now. He plays against top lines every night. That's not an easy thing, but he still manages to get 40 points in 50 games. It's pretty impressive."