It wasn’t that long ago that the Bruins were a laughingstock that couldn’t qualify for the playoffs the first two years out of the lockout.
But every season since head coach Claude Julien arrived in Boston, the Bruins have pushed those dark days farther into the past.
With a 2-1 win at Philadelphia tonight, the Bruins clinched a fourth straight playoff berth. Next up, the Northeast Division title, which will be the Bruins’ second in three seasons.
Amazingly, the Bruins finished the season series by taking three out of four, and seven points, against the Eastern Conference-leading Flyers. You combine that with three wins against second-place Washington, two wins (five points) against Pittsburgh and three wins against Tampa Bay, and it cannot be denied that Boston has proven it’s one of the teams to beat in the East.
Here’s a glance at the box score:
•Brad Marchand scored the game-winning goal with just 3:43 left in regulation. It was his 20th of the season and first after a 12-game drought.
•In goal, Tim Thomas earned his third straight win with 27 more saves, including a couple point-blank stops on Kris Versteeg (who scored the Flyers’ goal) and Andrej Meszaros when the Bruins were behind 1-0.
•You can consider this a power-play eruption for the Bruins. They scored two goals on the man-advantage tonight, the first time they’ve scored more than once on the power play since Jan. 18 at Carolina. Boston’s power play is now 4-for-15 over the last four games.
•With an assist on the game-winning goal, Mark Recchi tied Paul Coffey for 12th on the all-time assist list with 1,531.