BOSTON — The Stanley Cup playoffs are about a week away, which means the longest week of the season for a team like the Boston Bruins has arrived.
While the Bruins still could win the Presidents’ Trophy, they don’t have much left to play for — at least not when it comes to the standings, as they’ve wrapped up the Eastern Conference’s No. 1 playoff seed.
That’s not to say there’s nothing to be gained in the final week of the season. The Bruins take on Minnesota and Winnipeg on the road before coming home for a game with Buffalo on Saturday. They then wrap up the regular-season slate against New Jersey on Sunday. Bruins head coach Claude Julien wants his team to stick with the program in the final week — with a little rest mixed in, too.
“As we mentioned, we want to rest some players, which you will probably see moving forward here with four games left,” Julien said. “But we still have lots of goals. … For us, it’s really the consistency and the thought that if we play well, we still have the chance to finish at the top of the league. No matter whether we rest players or not, we still have something to play for and we should play for that.”
Julien also expects the Bruins to be tested in their final week. Minnesota and New Jersey are making final pushes for playoff spots. Winnipeg, the head coach pointed out, wants to finish the season on a good note, despite the fact it’s not in playoff contention. Buffalo always plays the Bruins tough.
Despite that talk, the final week probably will be about rest more than anything else. The Presidents’ Trophy — which goes to the NHL team with the best record — would be a nice accomplishment, but it’s certainly not worth risking anyone’s health heading into the postseason. That’s already started with Jarome Iginla and Kevan Miller. Both players have been held out of the lineup recently with minor injuries, and others likely will sit in the final week.
“I feel like I’ve got a good read on my team, but there’s times where the core group has come up to me and said, ‘We’re feeling a little bit tired, our legs were a little heavy in the first period,’ or ‘Our legs were a little bit heavy tonight,’ and it’s good for me to know those things because then I can manage it knowing how they felt,” Julien said. “It is a mutual thing.”
The Bruins also likely will keep an eye on the rest of the league. All they know right now is that they’re the No. 1 seed and will take on the East’s second wild-card team. The rest of the conference playoff picture will shake out this week.