BOSTON — Look at the Boston Bruins’ upcoming schedule and you might get a bit queasy.
Even with the line-up getting closer to full health, a ledger that reads home for Washington, home for New Jersey, home for the New York Rangers, at Montreal and at Philadelphia over the course of the net eight days is a daunting one. Undoubtedly, this stretch will tell the Bruins a lot about where they stand as far as their chances of holding onto the top spot in the Eastern Conference and maybe winning the East in the postseason.
Defenseman Aaron Ward, a three-time Stanley Cup winner, wants his team to grab the bull by the horns during the upcoming span of games against the best of the best.
“I think it’s a measuring stick for us. It’s an opportunity to challenge ourselves. Don’t take the approach that you’re thinking about just going about every game and playing it and seeing what happens. You’ve got to really be aggressive with the idea that that’s the type of hockey that we’ll see this week is the type of hockey we’ll see in the playoffs,” he said today after the Bruins’ morning skate at TD Banknorth Garden.
Rookies Matt Hunwick and Blake Wheeler, as well as a few other younger Bruins, will be experiencing the NHL stretch run for the first time. Ward said they’ll have to learn quickly what it takes to prevail with a rocky road ahead.
“The unfortunate point for the Hunwicks and Wheelers is that they weren’t here this year. And if we need to look at anything and draw upon our experiences, we were in the opposite situation last year. Coming off the All-Star break we were struggling for a position,” Ward said. “So you ramp up your performance, you ramp up your focus, you basically get yourself in position to head into the playoffs on an upswing. And I think that’s what we have to prepare ourselves for. We sell ourselves short if we’re not focused and ready for that.”