There were plenty of milestones that were hit during the Boston Bruins last home game of the season on Saturday. After a 4-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres, the Bruins clinched the Presidents’ Trophy for best overall record in the NHL and home ice advantage throughout the playoffs for the first time since the 1989-90 season.
When Patrice Bergeron scored the team’s third goal of the game, his 30th of the year, it was the first time since the 2002-03 season that the Bruins have had two 30-goal scorers on the same roster. Jarome Iginla is the other.
They’re nice accolades for a season well done for the Bruins, but it’s not the ultimate goal. Nowhere close to it, in fact.
“The President’s Trophy identifies a team who’s been good for the regular season,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien. “The other thing is, it also guarantees home ice as long as you’re in the playoffs. So, those are two things we’re really proud of, but that’s where it stops. The next step is we still got to do some work here in order to get the trophy that we all really want here.”
This isn’t knocking what the Bruins accomplished in the regular season, especially on home ice. The Bruins played 41 games at the TD Garden, winning 31 of those. Seriously–31. They only lost in regulation seven times at home.
Even after playing until June 24 of last season, one of two NHL teams with the shortest offseason, there were no excuses of fatigue as the team powered through the regular season that included an two-week Olympic break and a 12-game winning streak in March. Regardless of the outcome, the 2013-14 NHL season has been pretty impressive for the Bruins.
“It is a nice achievement, that’s for sure, but that wasn’t our goal going into the season,” said David Krejci. “So one thing what’s good about it is as long as we’re in the playoffs we’ll be starting at home, so that’s good, but we’re trying to accomplish something different so we have one more game tomorrow. We need to play a really strong game and feel good about our game going into the playoffs.”
Still, the Presidents’ Trophy comes with superstitions. There have only been eight teams who won both the Presidents’ Trophy and the Stanley Cup in the same season. Most recent? The 2013 Chicago Blackhawks. It’s another challenge for the Bruins.
With one game remaining in the regular season for the Bruins, a Sunday matinee against the New Jersey Devils, it’s safe to assume that Boston will be without a few key players in the lineup.
For one, Chris Kelly has been ruled out for the remainder of the regular season. It didn’t help that Bergeron didn’t return to the game in the third period after what Julien deemed a “very minor” injury. And on top of that, Daniel Paille could miss time after suffering a high hit from Jake McCabe late in the third period.
For a team that has been incredibly fortunate as of late staying healthy, the last thing the Bruins need are injuries going into the first round of the playoffs.
“You’ve got to feel for the guys like Piesy [Daniel Paille] there,” said Torey Krug. “Obviously we want everyone for playoffs and hopefully he’s okay. You have to stay sharp mentally, because if you’re not, you’re going to get hurt yourself. So, you’ve got to make sure you’re in it mentally, sharp, and physically you’re taking care of things. Otherwise, you’re going to find yourself on the sidelines.”
Still, the Bruins head into the first round of the playoffs as the one team that holds home ice advantage for as far as they can go. The challenge for the 2013-14 Presidents’ Trophy winner now becomes how they get there.
Mike Miccoli covers the Boston Bruins for The Hockey Writers and has been a credentialed member of the media for all Bruins’ home games for the past five years. As a former player, coach and official, Miccoli has been around the game of hockey since the age of three. Along with his work on THW, Miccoli has also been published in the New England Hockey Journal, Improper Bostonian magazine and on BostInno.