There is less than two weeks left in the 2013 NHL regular season and the Bruins have just seven games remaining (five home, two away) before the playoffs begin on April 30. Despite a brutal 4-2 loss in Carolina on Saturday, they are still in good shape: one point behind Montreal for first place in the Northeast Division and even though they don’t play head-to-head again, four of the Canadiens’ last seven games are on the road.
This upcoming week is pivotal for the B’s as they have four games in a row at TD Garden: today vs. Ottawa (7 p.m., NESN), Wednesday vs. Buffalo, Friday vs. Pittsburgh and Sunday afternoon vs. Florida. Boston has the best home record (14-3-2) in the Eastern Conference so if they are going to make a move, now is the time. They are 4-0-0 against the Senators (21-14-6) this season, all four wins have been one-goal games. The Sabres (17-19-6) are going to miss the playoffs, the Penguins (32-10-0) are the top team in the East and the Panthers (13-22-6) are the worst team in the East.
Do-everything center Patrice Bergeron has been practicing with the team this past week and he traveled to Carolina but didn’t suit up for the game. It sounds like he could be back this week which would be huge for the B’s who are 3-3-0 since he got a concussion against Ottawa on April 2. Brad Marchand’s return seems further away. The other player that will be added to the mix is the mysterious Carl Soderberg, who the Bruins obtained in a 2007 trade but has played his entire career in Sweden since that time. It’s hard to figure out what to expect from him but Bruins brass is confident that he will be a better option than the likes of Jordan Caron, Kaspers Daugavins and Jay Pandolfo going forward.
If Boston can take care of business and beat Ottawa and Buffalo like they should, it sets up the biggest game of the regular season: Friday vs. Pittsburgh. The Bruins lost twice in Pittsburgh in mid-March and this is the only shot they get against them at the Garden. Everyone will be picking the Penguins to win the Eastern Conference (assuming Sidney Crosby is back from his broken jaw) so the B’s will want to have a good showing to prove they can beat Pittsburgh. Plus, it is the first chance for Boston fans to give Jarome Iginla a piece of their minds.
Follow Metro Bruins beat writer Richard Slate on Twitter: @RichSlate