BOSTON — The Bruins’ season of superlatives continued on Saturday afternoon as the Black and Gold notched their latest regular-season accomplishment.
The B’s clinched the Presidents’ Trophy as the NHL’s best team for the regular season with a 4-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres at TD Garden. The B’s have one more game to play, but Saturdays win means they will have home-ice advantage throughout the entire Stanley Cup playoffs.
The Presidents’ Trophy doesn’t mean much in the scope of hockey history — quick, name two of the last three winners — but being the league’s top-ranked team does represent remarkable consistency. That was one of the Bruins’ biggest strengths in a regular season that will come to a close on Sunday afternoon in New Jersey. Saturday’s win snapped a two-game (shootout) losing streak and ensured the B’s won’t have a three-game losing streak all season. You’d have to go all the way back to the 1977-78 season to find a Bruins team that went the entire season without losing three in a row.
“It’s a nice accomplishment,” Boston defenseman Torey Krug said. “Obviously it’s not our main goal, but along the way you’re going to pick up things like that. It’s good; obviously the best record in the NHL speaks for itself. Now we’re onto our main goal and we’re going to have a lot of fun with it.”
The 117 points the Bruins now have are also good for third-most in franchise history, and Boston can tie the 1971-72 Stanley Cup-winning club at 119 points with a win on Sunday.
Nice accomplishments, sure, but the Black and Gold already have its eyes set on bigger things than just a Presidents’ Trophy and regular-season consistency. To a man, the Bruins spoke about the more important tasks at hand once the playoffs begin.
“The Presidents’ Trophy identifies a team who’s been good for the regular season,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “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.”
Maybe the even better news for the Bruins is that they were able to correct some mistakes after a couple of bad losses in Minnesota and Winnipeg earlier in the week. The B’s dominated the Sabres from puck drop on Saturday. While that was expected of the B’s, it’s a good way to get back on track before Sunday, which will probably prove to be a day of rest for a handful of Boston veterans.
And after that, it’s time for the real hockey to be played.
“That’s been a great regular season, but we’ve got one more game left and then we all know that what everybody calls the real season is right around the corner,” Julien said. “I’m going to tell you that I’m really happy with the way we handled these 81 games and hopefully these 82 by tomorrow. But that’s all going to be pushed aside starting Monday.”