Bruins Enjoying Unique Accomplishment of Winning Back-to-Back Division Titles But Still Aim for Bigger Repeat


Bruins Enjoying Unique Accomplishment of Winning Back-to-Back Division Titles But Still Aim for Bigger RepeatBOSTON — It was nearly two decades ago that the NHL shunned tradition in favor of geography in the rebranding of its division names.

But since the old Adams, Patrick, Norris and Smythe Divisions were retired and the new divisions emerged for the 1993-94 season, no team has claimed the crown in the Northeast Division in successive seasons. No one, that is, until the Bruins repeated as division champs when they clinched another title with Sunday's 2-1 win over the Rangers in New York.

"It's really big," Bruins forward Brad Marchand said of winning the division again. "We didn't want to go down to the wire having to battle for those points and that spot, but we did a great job of bearing down when we needed to, especially against the Rangers. We've had a tough time with them this year, but we finished on a good note."

It was a big victory, but not even the Bruins realized they were doing something no other Northeast team had ever done by repeating as division champs.

"Are we really?" forward Tyler Seguin said. "I had no idea. That's definitely a good honor. That's pretty cool."

Seguin is in just his second season in the NHL, so he could easily be forgiven for not knowing about such historical achievements. But he wasn't the only Bruin unaware of the club's unique accomplishment.

"I didn't know that, actually," said center Chris Kelly, who has spent parts of eight seasons in the NHL, all of them in the Northeast Division with Ottawa and Boston. "That’s something special. We’ll take it."

Of course, the Bruins have their sights on a bigger repeat after winning the franchise's first Cup in 39 years last spring, but retaining the division crown was an encouraging first step.

"That was the goal, to win the division," Kelly said. "I thought we played well on Sunday there, so it was nice to win it the way we did.

"We've got a great team here, a great bunch of guys that play for one another. I think it shows throughout the course of the year. You’re going to have your ups and downs, but if you stay the course, good things happen."

The Bruins plan to do just that through the remainder of the regular season, even with their playoff position secured.

"I think we need to approach these games like any other games," Kelly said. "Yes, we are secure in the spot we're at, but the teams we're playing aren't. So they're going to be good games, and we want to get ready for the playoffs."

The Bruins finish the season by hosting Pittsburgh on Tuesday, visiting Ottawa on Thursday and facing Buffalo at the Garden on Saturday. The Penguins and Senators have already clinched playoff berths but are still battling for seeding, while the Sabres are trying to claw into the final spot available in the East.

The Bruins no longer face that kind of pressure, but they want to go into the postseason with some momentum and make sure no bad habits creep into their game.

"It's comforting. It's nice that we don't have a lot of pressure on our shoulders right now," Marchand said. "We can play our game and make sure we’re doing the right things going into the playoffs. It is a bit of a weird feeling, but a good one."

Have a question for Douglas Flynn? Send it to him via Twitter at @douglasflynn or send it here. He will pick a few questions to answer every week for his mailbag.

TMZ logo

© 2017 NESN