The Boston Bruins entered March knowing they’d have to play 17 games in 30 days (they’re off March 31), which meant they’d get one heckuva test. They’ve passed that test so far, winning 10 of the first 11 games.
However, their 10-game winning streak has come against teams that aren’t exactly world-beaters. That’s not to take anything away from the Bruins — winning 10 games in a row isn’t easy, especially in a condensed schedule — but the real tough task is yet to come.
On Friday, the Bruins will start a stretch of nine games in 16 days to end March and head into April. Those games won’t be easy, with six coming on the road and all against teams still very much in playoff contention.
Here’s a deeper look at how that stretch will unfold.
Friday at Colorado: The Avalanche have been arguably the NHL’s most surprising team this season. Patrick Roy has Colorado playing some incredible hockey, especially at the Pepsi Center, where they have 23 wins.
Saturday at Phoenix: The Bruins will take on the Coyotes for the second time in nine days, but this meeting will be on the second half of a back-to-back. The B’s toppled the Coyotes the first time, but Phoenix — which currently holds the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot — is fighting for its playoff life.
Monday vs. Montreal: The Bruins return home to face the Canadiens, which never is easy. The Habs are in playoff position and have found their way as of late. They’ll also be looking for revenge after the Bruins won in Montreal earlier in the month.
March 27 vs. Chicago: The Blackhawks will be back in Boston for the first time since winning the Stanley Cup at TD Garden in June. They’ll be without injured winger Patrick Kane, but the Hawks still are one of the deepest and most dangerous teams in the league.
March 29 at Washington: The Bruins hit the road again and will visit the Capitals for the first time this season. It will be the teams’ third meeting this month, though, and like many other teams on this list, Washington is on the playoff cut line.
March 31 at Philadelphia: The Flyers are one of the hottest teams not named the Bruins right now. Claude Giroux has been fantastic lately, and that has Philly back in the playoff picture. The Flyers’ recent three-game winning streak included two wins over the Pittsburgh Penguins and another over the Blackhawks. Not too shabby.
April 2 at Detroit: April begins with a two-game road trip that starts in Detroit. The Red Wings have been battered by injuries all season, but Mike Babcock has them hanging around. Assuming the Wings don’t (literally) fall apart in the next two weeks, the Bruins will have a desperate opponent.
April 3 at Toronto: Speaking of desperate, the Maple Leafs are another team whose playoff fate still is up in the air. Toronto’s team speed always gives the Bruins fits, which means Boston will have its hands full again, especially on the second half of a back-to-back.
April 5 vs. Philadelphia: The Flyers come to Boston for the first time this season to cap the difficult stretch.