Tonight’s Bruins-Islanders game at the TD Banknorth Garden is the first of a few select opportunities for the team to take advantage of the shortened NHL schedule. In the grueling 48-game schedule, teams most often play every other day, and as the season gets closer to March, teams can even face playing four games in six days. With that in mind, games that are followed by multiple days of rest must be taken advantage of in order to best position the Bruins for the playoffs.
While making the playoffs is never a certainty, the Bruins have won the Northeast division three years running, and haven’t missed the playoffs in the Claude Julien era. After the tonight’s game against the Isles, the Bruins have two full days off at home before they have to travel down to Carolina on Monday.
Given the amount of rest, the team should work as hard as possible to avoid a letdown versus a young and hungry Islanders team. In a full 82-game season, teams such as the Islanders might already have faded out of the playoff race. With this year’s shortened schedule however, every team in the Eastern Conference has a much more realistic chance of making the playoffs.
The fact that the game is also at home should be extra motivation for the team to bring it’s very best. After a strong opening game victory versus the Rangers, the team has been inconsistent in a shootout win against Winnipeg at home, and a shootout loss to the Rangers on the road. With the Patriots out of the playoffs, and the Celtics struggling mightily, the Bruins should have the full weight of the city behind them for all of their remaining home games and hopefully well into the playoffs.
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