BOSTON -- The Bruins still have nine games left against the Western Conference so things can still change for the worse. But aside from a couple of rough games against Anaheim and LA during their California road trip, the Bruins are one of the few Eastern Conference hockey clubs that’s been able to proudly stand up to the Beasts of the West.
The 3-2 win over the Kings on Monday afternoon at TD Garden gives them an 11-4-3 record against the Western Conference this season, tied with the Tampa Bay Lightning for the most wins by any East team against the West. The win over the Kings pushed them to 7-3 against the dominant Pacific Division, and 4-1-3 against their Central Division foes.
If it comes down to one of the California clubs against the Bruins in June, Claude Julien won’t be shrinking away from that challenge.
“I think we’re 1-1 against Anaheim, we’re 1-1 against LA, and we’re 2-0 against San Jose. I don’t think there’s any reason to feel that we can’t compete with those guys,” Julien said. “I think it’s a matter of time there for us to get our game back. When we were in Anaheim and LA, we fell behind 3-0 but we climbed ourselves back into it.
“I think our team can certainly compete, and know that there’s going to be heavy games against all those teams. That’s the way everybody [in the West] seems to play. Chicago has a more up-tempo offensive type of game where they’ll take it to you with the pace. I think we’ve shown last year and even in this last game, that we’re capable of keeping up with that pace as well.”
Boston’s shining regular season record against the West is a far cry from the 155-90-36 record that the Western Conference has amassed against teams from the East this season.
What’s the reason for the B’s success against the big, strong, deep Western teams? Why do the Black and Gold get hard-earned wins when there have been problems for so many of their Eastern Conference brethren?
More than anything else, it’s because the Bruins play exactly the same hard, physical, grinding style featured by the best in the West. It’s a lot easier said than done given how challenging it is to play those heavy, playoff-style games like Monday’s win where bodies were flying all over the ice from hard checks, ice bags flowing in the dressing room afterward.
But it’s clear the Bruins speak the same language of “hard-to-play-against hockey” while finesse teams like the Penguins, Canadiens and Senators play a much more traditional wide open Eastern style.
Outside of those two road games in Anaheim and LA when the Bruins fell down by 3-0 scores while still scrambling to find answers after the Dennis Seidenberg injury, the Bruins -- as much as anybody else -- have shown this season how it can be won in the West.