WILMINGTON, Mass. — The Boston Bruins face a tough test Thursday night at TD Garden. Then another on Saturday. And again on Sunday.
Beginning with Monday’s 2-1 shootout loss to the Montreal Canadiens, the Bruins — now less than three weeks from the end of the regular season — are in the middle of a stretch that includes eight consecutive games against teams that are either in the playoffs or fighting for a wild-card spot.
A Stanley Cup Final rematch with the Chicago Blackhawks is up next on the docket, followed by meetings with the Washington Capitals, Philadelphia Flyers (twice), Detroit Red Wings, Toronto Maple Leafs and Minnesota Wild.
“It’s a big test for us with 10 games left in the season,” Bruins winger Milan Lucic said after Wednesday’s practice. “I think for us, we can’t let a shootout loss deflate us and ruin kind of our momentum we have right now. We want to focus on playing the right way, and think we have been as of late. I think that’s where our focus needs to be heading into (Thursday).”
The Bruins have an ironclad hold on a favorable playoff seed, holding a 15-point cushion atop the Atlantic Division and a seven-point lead on the Pittsburgh Penguins for first place in the Eastern Conference. Lucic said playing such a difficult schedule down the stretch will prevent any complacency from setting in for the Bruins.
“It’s easy for the mind to wander with a cushion,” the winger said. “This is the time of year you want to be playing those types of games, playing these playoff-type games. (Thursday) is most likely going to be a tight game like the last one was (the Blackhawks beat the Bruins in a shootout back on Jan. 19). But like I said, I think the main focus right now is keeping that momentum, playing the right way, creating those good habits and getting that little final tuneup before the playoffs start.
“You know it’s not a switch you can just turn on and off. You want to have a good last 10 games to finish off the year.”
— The Bruins hosted a special guest at Ristuccia Arena, as 9-year-old Maddie Santosuosso shared the crease with goalie Tuukka Rask for 15 minutes after practice. To read more on Maddie’s visit, click here.
— The team will continue its humanitarian efforts later Wednesday afternoon by taking part in the seventh annual Cuts For A Cause. Twenty-one Bruins players will shave their heads during the event, with all proceeds benefiting the Shawn Thornton Foundation, the Boston Bruins Foundation and the Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center.
Thornton said after practice that the event already had raised roughly $105,000, not including proceeds from raffles and donations from players who chose not to shave their heads.
“We’ve raised the most ever by $30,000,” the fourth-liner said. “It keeps getting bigger and bigger. We’re very fortunate that people are buying into this so much.”