The Boston Bruins are heading to the Stanley Cup playoffs for the fifth straight year after beating the New Jersey Devils 3-0 on Monday night.
Boston has struggled against New Jersey this season, but didn’t look the least bit rusty with a full 60-minute effort that featured big hits, a slew of shots on net, a fight and, of course, three goals en route to the win.
“We knew we could punch our playoff ticket and go in through the front door (with a win),” head coach Bruce Cassidy said after the game. “I think it sent a really good message to New Jersey that we were here to take care of business.”
It certainly did, and the Devils just couldn’t keep up with the Bruins.
But what was the message to the team after the playoff-clinching win?
“What I told the guys was, ‘first of all congratulations,’ because our expectations, obviously, are higher than to just make the playoffs.” Cassidy said. “It’s still an accomplishment in this league, it’s not automatic. Ask Philadelphia who had a real good year last year, they won’t be in this year. Dallas is fighting for their life, they went into the Final last year. I’m sure they thought they would be in a better position than they are.
“So it’s not always automatic. First and foremost it was, ‘hey, good job.’ Now let’s keep building for bigger and better things.”
It’s unclear what seed the Bruins will lock up, but they did the hard part Monday night in clinching one of the four East Division spots.
Here are some other notes from Monday’s Bruins-Devils game:
— Tuukka Rask made 19 stops to earn the shutout. He is 6-0-0 with a .943 save percentage since his return from injury.
There Bruins only have five games left in the season, and Rask expects to play one or two more games in the final stretch.
“Less is more I’d say,” he said.
Rask also noted he hasn’t been 100% physically this entire season, but knows the goal is bigger than just reaching the playoffs.
“It’s a great accomplishment. It’s not easy especially in our division,” he said. “We have bigger goals in mind and we get to go for it again.”
— Brad Marchand played in his 800th career game. And while he didn’t score a goal, he did pick up two assists.
— The Bruins have faced a lot of ups and downs this season, and have looked like a different team since the NHL trade deadline. Patrice Bergeron, for one, is proud of how his team has handled the adversity.
“We’ve battled all year. I’m proud with how we stuck with the ups and downs,” he said. “Everyone stepping up, chipping in.”
— Speaking of Bergeron, the captain amassed his 20th goal in the win, marking the 12th time he will have at least 20 tallies in a season.
— Lost in all the playoff excitement: the Bruins jumped ahead of the New York Islanders by one point for third place in the East Division standings.