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Bruins’ playoff streak could be over much earlier than expected 04.11.15 at 1:47 pm ET
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This is what Patrice Bergeron looked like the last time the Bruins were not a playoff team. (Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images)

This is what Patrice Bergeron looked like the last time the Bruins were not a playoff team. (Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images)

TAMPA, Fla. –€” Chowder and playoff hockey: That’€™s what Boston does.

Perhaps until Saturday night, anyway. If the Bruins do not get the help they need from both other teams and then beat the Lightning, they will miss the playoffs for the first time since the 2006-07 season. Dave Lewis was the head coach, Zdeno Chara was in his first year with Boston and a 21-year-old Patrice Bergeron was the team’€™s bright spot. David Krejci (six games) was the only other current Bruin to play for that team.

That roster was terrible. This one isn’€™t.

Postseason hockey has become a given since Claude Julien arrived the following season. Brad Marchand, in his fifth full NHL season, has never realistically had to think about where to vacation in April. If Lady Luck spurns the B’€™s Saturday, he and his teammates will be cleaning out their lockers at TD Garden before the superior half of the league begins the playoffs on Wednesday.

Julien’€™s Bruins have set a higher standard. Though they’€™ve had a couple close calls over the years, none have been anything like this. Marchand said that while he figured there would be a time in his Bruins career that the team might fall off from the elite teams of the Eastern Conference, he never thought it would happen this quickly.

“I know teams go through times where they rebuild, especially in the cap era, but I don’€™t think we were expecting to be battling for a playoff spot like this for a few years to come,” Marchand said after Saturday’€™s morning skate.

Milan Lucic, a member of the 2009-10 team that finished with the seventh seed and blew a 3-0 series lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals to the Flyers, said Saturday morning that he would consider this the most disappointing season he has experienced if the Bruins missed the playoffs.

Lucic’€™s first season was in 2007-08, the start of Boston’€™s seven-year streak of reaching the postseason annually. That group didn’€™t secure its spot until the final days of the season, getting in as a No. 8 seed before taking the top-seeded Canadiens to seven games before being eliminated.

Compared to this, that season was triumphant. There is no feel-good story attached to the Bruins’€™ current situation and they know it.

“You compare this team to the ‘€™07-08 team,” Lucic said. “On paper, we’€™re so much better, and here we are with the situation we’€™re in. I guess I’€™ll have a better answer for you tonight.”

The Bruins built off that 2008 playoff berth. Missing out on one this season could signal organization changes and they know it.

Peter Chiarelli and Claude Julien both deserve to keep their jobs. They are two of the best in the league at what they do, and with no guarantee that better options will be available, blowing things up could leave the Bruins where the Penguins currently stand: fighting for the playoffs on the last day themselves, with no first-round pick after the team hastily moved it in a desperate attempt to bolster its offense.

Yet Charlie Jacobs said what he said in January and he might feel required to hold someone accountable. That could mean changes, and a new leadership group would mean no current players are safe.

“Anything can happen if things go wrong,’€ Marchand said, ‘€œbut today isn’€™t really the time to talk about that. It’€™s more worrying about what we can control and playing a big game tonight.

“You know what? If we win tonight, then it’€™s possible that we’€™re still in. Hopefully that’€™s the case, but if not then we’€™ll worry about that in the next few days.”

Read More: Brad Marchand, Milan Lucic,
Bruins cling to what little hope remains as they prepare for Lightning 04.11.15 at 12:43 pm ET
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TAMPA, Fla. — By all accounts, the Bruins treated Friday like a regular off-day: no big team-dinner, no major group outing, just a day to clear their heads.

When they awoke Saturday, some of the shock of their situation had subsided. Whether overcompensating or genuinely confident, Claude Julien sported his bravest face in the team’€™s morning skate as he and his players held on to the slightest bit of hope that they could still find a way into the playoffs. With the Penguins losing in regulation Friday, the Bruins are at least feeling a little better than they did following Thursday’€™s 4-2 loss to the Panthers. No matter what happens with Ottawa or Pittsburgh Saturday, however, the Bruins must beat the Lightning Saturday in addition to getting help.

“It’€™s pretty obvious that you have an opportunity here tonight,” Julien said. “I don’€™t think you need to go back on the last game. I think our first period was the energy that we needed; we just couldn’€™t sustain it for three periods, so you end up with a loss. Do you keep going back to that or do you keep going to the excitement and the excitement that you have tonight. I think that’€™s what we’€™ve got to do here as a team.”

The Bruins did not do line rushes in Saturday’€™s morning skate. All that is known is that Tuukka Rask will start and the only six defensemen on the roster will play. How the forward lines look and who will be scratched up front is unknown.

On the other side, the Bruins may catch a bit of a break if Jonathan Drouin doesn’€™t play. The star rookie left wing was not at Saturday’€™s morning skate and is under the weather. His status for the game is unknown, but Tampa did recall Jonathan Marchessault on an emergency basis. Defensemen Braydon Coburn, Andrej Sustr and Jason Garrison, as well as forward Jason Killorn, are all out with injuries.

If the Penguins lose to the Sabres in regulation and the Bruins get any kind of win, Boston will get in over Pittsburgh. If the Penguins lose in overtime or a shootout, the Bruins could get in with a regulation or overtime win. The other scenario in which Boston could sneak into the playoffs would be with a regulation or overtime win and a Senators regulation loss to the Flyers.

Either scenario would result in the Bruins getting a wild card spot. Should they reach the playoffs, they will play either the Rangers or the Canadiens in the first round.

They know that is unlikely. In the meantime, they will try to earn a bit of luck with their best effort of the season.

“There is something to play for tonight. We have to take that mentality into the night that there’€™s still a lot on the line and we need to win a hockey game in order to hopefully end up in the playoff picture,” Milan Lucic said. “Obviously, some things have to happen. It’€™s not the situation that we want to be in. Again, some things can happen. It always seems like we always have to do things the hard way. Here’€™s one of those situations again.”

Read More: Claude Julien, Milan Lucic,
Bruins return Joe Morrow to Providence 04.11.15 at 11:23 am ET
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Joseph Morrow

Joe Morrow

TAMPA, Fla. — To the surprise of no one, Zdeno Chara will play Saturday night as the Bruins make their final and unlikely bid to reach the postseason.

That much was made official Saturday morning when the team announced it had sent defenseman Joe Morrow to Providence.

Morrow had been recalled earlier in the week as Chara dealt with an injury in the left foot area. Chara missed Monday’s practice after blocking a shot with the foot a week ago against the Leafs, and he was hit again on the other side of the foot by a Joel Ward shot Wednesday in Washington. Neither he nor the Bruins have elaborated on his condition.

With Morrow no longer on the roster, Boston has only six defensemen: Chara, Adam McQuaid, Zach Trotman, Dennis Seidenberg, Torey Krug and Matt Bartkowski. Dougie Hamilton did not make the trip and will not play.

For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.

Read More: Joe Morrow, Zdeno Chara,
Steven Stamkos, Lightning would ‘love’ to keep Bruins out of playoffs 04.11.15 at 11:00 am ET
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Steven Stamkos and the Lightning would "love" to keep the Bruins out of the playoffs. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Steven Stamkos and the Lightning would “love” to keep the Bruins out of the playoffs. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

TAMPA, Fla. — The Eastern Conference is changing. Since the Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 2011, then-competitive teams have fallen off and risen again.

One of them is the Tampa Bay Lightning. Now, after earning their second consecutive playoff berth following a two-year drought, the Lightning can make it so the last Eastern Conference team to win the Cup will not participate in the postseason.

“I think any team in the league would love to knock a team like this out because of how dangerous they can be come playoff time,” Steven Stamkos said after the Lightning’s morning skate. “I think you look at LA and you look at Boston. Those are the teams that, no matter where they finish, if they can get into the playoffs, anything can happen because of the personnel they have, the experience they have. With LA being out, I think everyone in the West can sleep a little easier and obviously if Boston doesn’€™t make it, teams are a little happier here.”

Thanks to Friday night’s Penguins loss, the Bruins will still technically be alive when they hit the ice Saturday night at Amalie Arena.

When told of Stamkos’ words, Brad Marchand wasn’t surprised.

“We know that there’€™s no team that wants to do us a favor,” Marchand said. “We know that they’€™re going to bring their best game tonight. They played well at home their last game against us.

“We’€™re a good playoff team. We’€™re kind of built for that. Any team would be happy to knock us out. We know that they’€™re going to get their best game. That means that means that we’€™re going to have to play even harder and make sure we lay our bodies on the line and sacrifice for the team.”

Neither wild card spot in the Eastern Conference is clinched entering Saturday’s games. The Senators can clinch a playoff berth with a win Saturday afternoon in their regular season finale in Ottawa. The Penguins can tie up a spot with a win over the Sabres Saturday night. If the Senators lose in regulation or the Penguins fail to get a point, the Bruins can claim a spot with a win over the Lightning.

Yet the Lightning have more than one reason to try to win Saturday. In addition to knocking off the Bruins and making sure that they would never have to run into Tuukka Rask this spring, a win could potentially earn them the top seed in the Atlantic Division.

Through 81 games apiece, Tampa Bay has 106 points to Montreal’s 108. If Montreal loses to Toronto in regulation and Tampa beats Boston, the Lightning would take the top seed in the Atlantic by virtue of the regulation and overtime wins tiebreaker.

Read More: Boston Bruins, Brad Marchand, Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning
Peter Chiarelli: Departures of Jarome Iginla, Johnny Boychuk aren’t why Bruins are here 04.10.15 at 3:59 pm ET
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Jarome Iginla

Jarome Iginla

TAMPA, Fla. — Peter Chiarelli feels he deserves blame for this season, but the Bruins general manager thinks the idea that he killed the season before it started is incorrect.

The two biggest absences from last season’s roster were Jarome Iginla and Johnny Boychuk. The Bruins originally signed Iginla to a deal that allowed them to stash most of his $6 million on this year’s cap in the form of a penalty from performance bonuses. Signing him in the first place left them in the cap bind that prevented them from keeping him, while Boychuk also was dealt due to cap constraints.

Yet Chiarelli strongly disagreed with the suggestion that losing those two players led to a potential spring without playoff hockey in Boston for the first time since 2007.

“When you go back to when we won [the Stanley Cup in 2011], we’ve lost players since when we won, too,” Chiarelli said. “We’ve lost players since we went to the final. That happens, there’s roster turnover. I’m not avoiding the question. There’s no question, losing Iginla and Boychuk [hurt], but this is a game of, you’ve got to turn over your roster. You need to bring up talent and you’ve got to bring in talent. It’s part of the business.”

Added Chiarelli: “My point is is that things change and things have changed since 2011 and we went back to the final and we lost players. I just don’t buy it.”

Iginla took a three-year, $16 million deal with the Avalanche on the first day of free agency, while Boychuk recently was given a seven-year extension from the Islanders, who traded two second-round picks to the B’s for his services.

“We just can’t keep everybody and keep signing everybody, you just can’t do it in a cap world,” Chiarelli said. “[If] teams, our guys are saying or some guys are saying it’s a transition year, if you look back at our roster turnover, every year we’re trying to bring new players in. So I don’t see it as any different.”

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Read More: Jarome Iginla, Johnny Boychuk, Peter Chiarelli,
Dougie Hamilton will not play in Bruins’ regular-season finale 04.10.15 at 3:17 pm ET
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Dougie Hamilton

Dougie Hamilton

TAMPA, Fla. — There will be no rush-job in Dougie Hamilton’s recovery from an upper-body injury. His March 21 injury was expected to keep him out for the rest of the regular season and will indeed do so.

Hamilton has been skating since Monday but has yet to practice with the team. He did not travel with the Bruins for their current three-game road trip. Asked whether Hamilton would play Sunday, Chiarelli reiterated he would not. Claude Julien had said on Tuesday that Hamilton would not go on the trip, though the Bruins were in less of a bind before losing two straight in regulation.

If the Bruins are still in playoff contention at the time, Saturday night’s game against the Lightning will be a must-win. They could be eliminated prior by either a Penguins win Friday or a Senators win earlier Saturday.

In 72 games this season, Hamilton had 10 goals and 32 assists for 42 points. As of Friday, his 21:20 time on ice per game ranked third on the Bruins, while his 54.91 Corsi for percentage in five-on-five play ranks fifth among Bruins players with at least five games played this season.

The 21-year-old will be a restricted free agent following the season.

Read More: Dougie Hamilton,
Peter Chiarelli unsure of his future, feels Claude Julien has ‘done fine’ 04.10.15 at 3:04 pm ET
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Peter Chiarelli

Peter Chiarelli

TAMPA, Fla. — Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli met with reporters for over 17 minutes Friday, marking the team’s only media availability for the day.

The Bruins are all but eliminated from playoff contention. They need to both win Saturday and see either the Senators lose in regulation or the Penguins get no more than one point in their final two games. As such, there was ample reflection on this season’s issues, but Chiarelli stressed that he did not want have what he called the “postmortem” conversation until following the season.

Chiarelli’s job seemingly has been on the line since Charlie Jacobs said the entire organization was under review in January and that missing the playoffs would be unacceptable. Asked whether Chiarelli thought he would stay with the Bruins, he expressed uncertainty.

“I don’t know. I’m not sure,” Chiarelli said. “I’m operating [as if] I am [staying] until they tell me that I’m not.”

Claude Julien could also be on the hot seat despite receiving a contract extension in November. Chiarelli spoke to the job he’s done and noted that the group has collectively cultivated its current circumstances.

“I think he’s done fine,” Chiarelli said. “I look at a couple things. I think he’s mixed and matched with the lines, I think he’s integrated some youth into the forward lines. I think he’s done well mixing and matching on the defensive pairs. None of us lately have been used to these type of circumstances, myself included. I think he’s done fine. I don’t want to get into postmortem discussion. We’ll have the chance [for that]. It’s been disappointing and obviously it’s not acceptable and there’s a level of high standard in our city and our market and we haven’t reached it right now.”

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Read More: Claude Julien, Peter Chiarelli,
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