BOSTON – There’s no denying the Bruins are in an enviable spot headed into their final nine games.
They didn’t clinch the Atlantic Division title with a 3-0 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday night at TD Garden, but they will likely do that this weekend with a combination of one point and a Tampa Bay Lightning loss.
The Bruins are nine points ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins, who have lost three games in a row and lost another body in bottom six center Marcel Goc to a sprained ankle.
With points in their past 13 games and a shootout loss to the Montreal Canadiens as their only blemish in the past three-plus weeks, the Bruins are operating at high levels offensively, defensively, on special teams and with their goaltenders.
“That was best [effort] in a while, I think, for 60 minutes,” said Tuukka Rask. “From my standpoint, I don’t think they got too many chances. What they got, then the guys collected the rebound, or I saw the shot. It was a great effort from everybody.”
But don’t utter the “satisfied” word around Bruins coach Claude Julien, who wouldn’t deny that the Black and Gold are in a good spot with the playoffs right around the corner. But the coach and the rest of the B’s veteran leadership are wisely cognizant of comfort and complacency creeping into their game.
“We’re in the right position right now, as far as where you want to be at this time of year. Almost every game day morning, we spend time looking at an area where we feel might have slipped a little bit. We’re staying on top of things, too,” said Julien. “Satisfied is not a word that exists in our dressing room. Happy is one thing, but you continue to strive to get better.
“There are always parts of your game, including tonight, that you want to get better at. So, we just want to stay on top of those things, and make sure we keep our guys sharp.”
Weekend matinee games against playoff hungry teams, the Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers, should knock any dull edges off Boston’s game, but it’s difficult to envision the Bruins working up an emotional lather as they had this week facing the Canadiens and Blackhawks one last time prior to the postseason.