UNIONDALE, NY There was obviously a very happy group of Bruins players at Nassau Coliseum on Saturday morning after learning that they had clinched a postseason berth with Buffalos loss to Pittsburgh on Friday night.
They dont know who theyre playing and they have no idea what their ultimate postseason fate will be, but right now the Bruins know theyll get an opportunity to repeat as Stanley Cup champs.
The Bs stand as the fourth Eastern Conference team to secure a postseason slot with only two weeks remaining in the regular season.
Its definitely been a long, interesting season. We talked about how quick it was and weve had a lot of ups and downs, said Milan Lucic. Its an accomplishment, but obviously we have another goal in mind and thats clinching our division.
As Lucic stated, the Bruins still have something to play for with five games remaining as the Easts No. 2 slot is still completely up for grabs, but theres also some pride among the players at five straight years in the postseason.
Somebody like Milan Lucic doesnt know any different as the Black and Gold have been in the playoffs every year hes been in Boston. The young power forward realizes hes luckier than most in that regard.
Lucics first thoughts were of Marc Savard and his struggles to finally get into the postseason five years ago which he first did in his second season with Boston along with plenty of other worthy NHL names still waiting for their first taste of playoff hockey.
Im lucky. Im fortunate to be a part of some good teams and really coming into Boston at the right time. Ive been part of the postseason for five years and its great, said Lucic. You think about players that its taken so long for them to get there: I think it took Marc Savard seven or eight years before he made the playoffs. It took forever for Olli Jokinen and Jay Bouwmeester still hasnt made the playoffs, but they still have a chance with Calgary.
The playoffs are something you want to be a part of and its what you play for. Now there are five games left that we have to gear up for it.
That gearing up starts on Saturday afternoon with a matinee tilt against the New York Islanders.
Former Ravens and Jets linebacker - now an "NFL Today" analyst for CBS - Bart Scott usually "can't wait" to make his disdain for Tom Brady and the Patriots known.
He was back at it Tuesday in an interview with CBS Radio's Damon Amendolara, in which he said the Falcons have the better quarterback heading into Super Bowl LI.
“We know they’re the better offense, and right now, you could say they got the better quarterback because they have the MVP of the league,” Scott said. Ryan is the favorite to win the NFL MVP, which will be announced the night before the Super Bowl at the "NFL Honors" show.
“Now that’s a debate, but Matt Ryan has earned the right for his name to be put up there with the upper-echelon quarterbacks," Scott said. "He’s always been elite in the regular season, but now he’s taken this show into the postseason and he’s won the hard battles against the elite quarterbacks and now you have to give him his due.”
More from Scott: “I can’t see the Patriots stopping this offense. So, that means that these receivers are going to have to [keep] pace. It’s all going to come down to what it always comes down to. It’s going to come down to who makes the turnovers, who gets up early and puts the pressure on the other team. Matt Ryan and that offense showed me a lot when they went behind [in the divisional round against the Seahawks]. Seattle came and busted them in the face, and [Atlanta] went right back down and answered immediately.
"The Patriots always find a way, but I think it makes it more close of a game than what people think.”
Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while rooting for “Manchester By the Sea” to upset some favorites at the Oscars.
*Sidney Crosby and Auston Matthews top the annual NHL coaches' poll produced by TSN Insider Bob McKenzie.
*The oral history of Fox’s glowing puck used for the NHL during their run with the league is an entertaining one.
*Mike Babcock gives pep talks to the reporters along with his own players while running the show in Toronto.
*The Vegas Golden Knights are moving forward with their timetable toward hiring a coach with some good candidates out there now, and some other ones potentially available soon. I’ve wondered if Claude Julien would be interested in that spot if he’s let go by the Bruins this season, but the one sure thing is that he wouldn’t be out of work long if he is relieved of his duties.
*Claude Giroux needs to start playing a little more fearlessly and without dwelling on mistakes, according to his general manager.
*Detroit Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill doesn’t believe that fancy stats and analytics have had a major impact on the way the Wings do things.
*PHT writer James O’Brien has the rundown on a Millenial’s dream of performers at the 2017 NHL All-Star Game: Nick Jonas, Fifth Harmony and Carly Rae Jepsen.
*For something completely different: keeping an eye on the notion that Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg is going to run for President.