For the Bruins, Game 82 (the regular season finale) was all about getting rest for their key players (Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, Tuukka Rask, Jarome Iginla, David Krejci and Milan Lucic) while maintaining good health for those that suited up at the Prudential Center vs. New Jersey. The Devils (35-29-18) came out on top, 3-2, in what will likely be Martin Brodeur’s final game in New Jersey and maybe the NHL. Brodeur only had to make 16 mostly routine saves for the win.
Now, Boston (54-19-9) shifts all of its attention to the Red Wings. The Detroit Free Press reports that the first round series will start on Friday at TD Garden with Game 2 on Easter Sunday afternoon, then Game 3 on Tuesday and Game 4 on Thursday in Detroit.
The ragtag Bruins lineup (which featured four Providence Bruins that were called up) was no match for a Devils team that missed the playoffs by a few points. Devils defenseman Marek Zidlicky scored the first of his two goals early in the first period as yet again, Chad Johnson (28 saves) couldn’t stop a simple wraparound attempt. Loui Eriksson tied it with a power play goal in the final minute of the first after beautiful touch passing from Carl Soderberg and Brad Marchand.
Travis Zajac’s tip-in made it 2-1 Devils early in the third and Zidlicky quickly followed that with a power-play goal. Marchand notched his first power play point on the season with a goal that could end up being a trivia answer (who scored the last goal against Brodeur in his career?). It was a good result for the B’s in the sense that nobody got hurt and the game didn’t go to overtime or a shootout (more time for things to go wrong).
The NHL playoffs begin on Wednesday and regardless of when Bruins-Red Wings starts, Boston will be favored to win that series and many will pick them to win the Eastern Conference for the second year in a row.
What they'll be saying: Since he has struggled the past few seasons, it’s easy to forget how incredible Brodeur’s career is until you look at his incredible numbers. His 688 wins are, by far, the most all-time. He won four Vezina trophys and three Stanley Cups. What’s more, he also created his own unique style by becoming perhaps the best puck-handling goaltender that the game has ever seen (they changed the rules because of him). He should be a unanimous selection to the Hockey Hall of Fame and his legacy will live on forever. Let’s just hope he doesn’t leave New Jersey (where he’s played his entire pro career) and play out the string for a year or two with another team.
Two points each for Marchand (one goal, one assist), Eriksson (one goal, one assist) and Soderberg (two assists) has to give all of them a little extra confidence going into the postseason. The pecking order is clear by who sat this one out but those three guys are also very important if the Bruins are going to make any noise in the postseason. You need secondary scoring and some unexpected players to step up each series.
Stick salute to Marchand, Reilly Smith and Gregory Campbell - the three Bruins that played in every single game this regular season (not an easy feat by any means).
Follow Metro Boston Bruins beat writer Richard Slate on Twitter: @RichSlate