BOSTON -- Winners in four of their last five games, the Bruins feel like theyre onto something with the playoffs just around the corner.
But they also know they havent won more than two in a row since the middle of January.
There was plenty of talk about turning the corner and tipping points after the Bruins clipped both the Kings and Ducks to end a successful three-game road swing out West. The proof, however, is in the results, and the Bruins will need to keep things going Tuesday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning at TD Garden.
The Bolts are clinging to life support in the Eastern Conference playoff race, but come to Boston having won three in a row and with the electric Steven Stamkos -- who's scored three goals in his last two games, and has set a Tampa Bay single-season franchise record with 53 goals this year -- in tow. Not only that, but 42-year-old Dwayne Roloson appears to be raging against the dying of the NHL light; he's won three in a row in goal.
But the Bruins have also got vengeance on their minds after the disaster on the road in Tampa Bay two weeks ago that contributed mightily to an early March tailspin.
The Lightning dropped six goals on the B's that night and left them little shell-shocked.
Weve made steps in the right direction since that loss," said Bruins forward Chris Kelly. "That Tampa game was obviously an embarrassing game for us. If you asked every guy in the Bruins' clubhouse, theyd tell you that wasnt our style of hockey. They came at us and played to the final buzzer, but we didnt show up at all in that game . . . We're going to need a consistent, much better effort than the last time.
Certainly things seem stabilized for the Black and Gold, with their goaltenders stopping 94.9 percent of the shots theyve faced over the last five games. They havent allowed more than two goals per game in any of those five outings, and theyve outscored their opposition 19-8. That was after surrendering 36 goals in their first nine games in March.
Hopefully its a turning point," said defenseman Dennis Seidenberg. "But that's what we thought after the last two-game winning streak that we had before we lost to San Jose.
We have to take the positives out of the last few games, and were going to be fine.
Among those positives: The Bs defense and dept. Bostons third line of Kelly, Brian Rolston and Benoit Pouliot has demolished nearly every team theyve come up against recently, and head into Tuesday night with 26 points and a plus-23 among those three forwards in their last six games.
The Bruins have certainly come together as a team in that short period of time, and its obvious by the words of the newcomers. Even some newcomers who've been here before.
"I've played for almost 20 years in this league, and I haven't quite seen a jelled team like this, said Rolston, who spent five of those 20 years with the Bruins during the Joe Thornton Era. "Even though we were struggling a little bit, it's just a real team. It's not about individuals, and that speaks to the character in this dressing room."
And with seven games left before the real season begins, that jelling is occurring just in the nick of time.