All that stands in their way is the Ottawa Senators. The same Ottawa Senators who currently own the worst record in the Eastern Conference at 21-32-9 and the second-worst record in the entire NHL.
That's no guarantee of two points, however. The Bruins had to scramble to hold on for a 3-2 win over Edmonton on Sunday, and the Oilers are the only team with fewer points than Ottawa. The Senators themselves gave the Bruins a battle in the second game of this trip before Boston turned it on late with three goals in the third for a 4-2 victory.
But that's been one of the more encouraging signs on this road trip. The Bruins aren't always winning pretty, but they are finding ways to win consistently. They gave up the first goal of the game against both Vancouver and Edmonton over the weekend and came back to win both games. They shut down the top-ranked offense in the league in the Canucks in the process, and also snuffed out the red-hot Flames in Calgary on Tuesday.
"We've played a real solid two-way game," Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said. "We've maybe not generated all the chances that we normally would, but we're making really good plays. I feel we're cleaner in our own end. I like our movement better on the power play, so that speaks to the confidence too and the synergy. Goaltending has been good.
"Vancouver and Calgary are two tough, big teams and I just liked our game," Chiarelli added. "We competed. We came back and we played a solid game and the synergy we talked about, the four strong lines now, eventually you come out ahead if you're playing your game."
The Bruins have that depth up front after adding Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly in a pair of trades, and improved the power play with another deal for offensive defenseman Tomas Kaberle. Chiarelli didn't make any further tweaks to the big club's roster at Monday's deadline, but stood pat largely because of what he'd seen from the newcomers already on this trip.
"I thought the Calgary and Vancouver games really showed how important the additions are on a number of different fronts," Chiarelli said. "I think you saw the skill from Peverley, scoring or not scoring. You saw the versatility from Peverley and Kelly on the faceoffs and the forecheck. And of course Kaberle, I think, has just really changed the dynamic of our back. And I know our power play hasn't produced, but I like the plays that we're making on the power play. I really like the plays that we're making.
"And so what we've set out to accomplish by adding those players, I feel that we've accomplished it," Chiarelli added. "The chemistry now has to fall into place, and the drive to the playoffs has to fall into place, and then success in the playoffs. But we felt it was a real good first step, and I was happy we were able to do it when we did. I thought that was important."
The Senators are doing the opposite. They have been tearing down their roster in an effort to rebuild, selling off veterans at breakneck pace leading up to the deadline. They traded Mike Fisher, Kelly, Jarkko Ruutu, Brian Elliott and Alex Kovalev before the deadline, then shipped out Chris Campoli on Monday.
Ottawa did re-sign veteran defenseman Chris Phillips and held on to tough guy Chris Neil for some stability, but the Senators are fielding a lineup consisting largely of AHL call-ups. Robin Lehner, Bobby Butler, Erik Condra, Colin Greening, Zack Smith, Francis Lessard, Corey Locke and Roman Wick are among the reinforcements brought up from Binghamton to fill out the roster, while Marek Svatos and Curtis McElhinney were claimed on waivers.
There is danger in playing a team like that with nothing to lose and a bunch of youngsters trying to prove they belong in the league. But the Bruins have plenty to play for as well, and have some key new additions to help them in their quest.
"There's obviously a boost and players appreciate it," Chiarelli said. "They've told me they appreciate the moves. I think you're seeing part of that now. In the third line I think you’re seeing a little bit of gelling, it's taken a little bit of time but you're seeing some gelling there. I mean just from the perspective of adding players, good players that will help the players. They were well received and the players get excited about it."
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