Even though there's more than three weeks left in the regular season, the Bruins' focus is on the playoffs. And everything that's happening now -- from evaluating talent to how they approach the remaining games -- is judged in that context.
One of the big issues is the defense corps . . . specifically its inexperience, and whether the youngsters are up to the pressure of the potentially two-month-long Stanley Cup march. The young defensemen were forced into the spotlight by January's ACL/MCL injury to Dennis Seidenberg, which was thought to be season-ending.
Or is it?
That was the question Tony Massarotti posted to Bruins president Cam Neely during Neely's weekly "Felger & Mazz" radio appearance on Thursday. And while Neely didn't say yes, Seidenberg would return at some point in the playoffs, he didn't really say no, either.
"It's really unfair to start speculating that, and it's unfair to the player," said Neely. "I'm just going on experience. You want to play, and you want to get out and play. But really, certain injuries . . . take a certain amount of time to heal and everybody kind of has an idea of that time. But it's really unfair to the athlete to start . . . asking, 'Can [you] get back to play?' Time will certainly be able to answer that question.
"It's hard to put it out there because it's really unfair to the athlete. Because then they start thinking, 'Well, maybe I can come back early.' And that may not be helpful."
Maybe not, but Seidenberg -- who originally wasn't expected back until the beginning of training camp at the earliest -- is back on skates. And as far as his rehab is concerned . . .
"The rehab . . . there hasn't been any issues," said Neely. "He's doing very well with the rehab."
So. Neely's not saying Seidenberg will be back, nor is he saying he won't.
As for other issues Neely addressed during his appearance:
On whether the B's plan to rest some of their players down the stretch: "We've been talking about that, just trying to manage ice time and manage games. It's one of those things where it's a delicate balance. You want to make sure the guys are ready for the playoffs, you want to make sure that they're prepared for the playoffs. [But] we still have a number of [regular-season] games [remaining], and we've got some back-to-backs still. So it's a conversation that we do have internally. But it's a delicate balance."
On whether they'll go all out to finish first in the conference: "[We're] in a position now, you certainly look at it and say, 'It would be nice to win the conference, to certainly lock up home ice throughout [the conference playoffs].' Any time you can lock up home ice, it's nice to do. But having said that, I think it's more about how we're playing and how we need to play and how we want to play going into the remaining games in the season [and] going into the playoffs. And if being able to lock up the conference because of the way we're playing is a side effect, that's fantastic . . . We're all competitive, everybody's competitive, and it's always nice to be at the top. For us, it's more important about how we're playing as we approach the playoffs."