March 29, 2011

Playoff-like effort propels Bruins to victory

The Bruins celebrate Johnny Boychuk's second-period goal against the Blackhawks. (Getty)

BOSTON-- Entering Tuesday's tilt against the Blackhawks, the Bruins were well aware of the bad habits they had to avoid forming over the final seven games of the regular season.

They couldn't get complacent. There was no time to get too comfortable. Coasting was simply not an option.

After watching them earn a convincing 3-0 win over Chicago, the defending Stanley Cup champs who are fighting for a playoff spot out West, it's safe to say the Black and Gold are men of their word.

"That was a thing that we talked about before the game and yesterday at practice too, so we didn’t want to sit ourselves in a comfort zone like we did a month ago, three weeks ago," Patrice Bergeron said.

"And it’s still big point here. We haven’t clinched the division yet and it’s something that, it’s one of our goals, but it’s also now there’s six games left and playoffs are coming up. It’s important to keep the tempo going and make sure we’re ready."

It was a playoff-like effort for the Bruins, as they hit the ground running and took control of the game right off the bat.

"Well that’s what we need," said Bergeron. "We need to make sure, like I said, you can’t just turn the switch on the day of the playoffs. We need to make sure, we’re in that stretch now that it’s important to feel good about ourselves and tonight was a good effort."

With their spot in the playoffs secure and the Northeast Division all but wrapped up, maintaining the level of intensity they displayed on Tuesday will be crucial for Boston as they head into the postseason.

"It doesn’t matter that you clinch, I mean you still have to play desperate hockey," captain Zdeno Chara said. "And especially the teams we are facing are playing for their playoff spots, playoff positions. And if you don’t match it and if you don’t play the way you’re supposed to, you’re going to get embarrassed and that’s certainly not what we want.

"And for us, it’s the same thing. We want to get ready for playoffs and improve our game."

Coach Claude Julien was impressed by his team's effort against the Blackhawks, especially after all the recent talk about the importance of a strong performance.

"I think it was important for us to follow what we said and we had to come out strong and especially against a team that is desperate and a pretty good team—Stanley Cup Champions," said Julien. "So we needed to be ready and this is one game and we’ve got more to come. We’ve just got to keep taking that approach and like I said, for me, it’d be important to build some consistency in our game so that when the playoffs come around, we know what we’re capable of doing night in, night out."

The Bruins will now look to continue their current roll on Thursday night, as they'll welcome Phil Kessel and the Maple Leafs to TD Garden.

"We’re just trying to do the simple things, like I said before," said defenseman Johnny Boychuk, who scored his third goal of the season in the win. "We’re just trying to get pucks deep and try to play it like a playoff type of game, and that’s what we’ve been doing. It’s been working quite well lately."