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Monday, March 28, 2011

Bruins make the playoffs for the fourth straight season, when's the parade?

Back-to-back games might be rough on the players and coaches but for sports fans (and it's all about us, right?) it allows us to quickly move on from poor results.

The Boston Bruins' weak sauce 1-0 blanking by the New York Rangers on Saturday afternoon was one of the most forgettable games of the 2010-11 season.

Yet last night in Philadelphia, the Bs (42-23-10) beat the Flyers (45-20-10) 2-1 to clinch a playoff spot for the fourth straight season.

The fact that they knocked off the Eastern Conference's top team, who they ahem have some recent history with, made this two points all the more sweeter.

Kris Versteeg gave Philly a 1-0 lead at 4:45 of the first period, his 20th of the season, as a bad clearance bounced right to Mike Richards. He faked a shot and passed to Versteeg who roofed it over Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas (27 saves). James van Riemsdyk assisted on the goal too.

Boston's power play cashed in on not only one but two chances as Nathan Horton tied it at 1-1, 7:40 into the second period. It was Horton's 23rd of the season, assisted by Tomas Kaberle and David Krejci. Krejci won the face-off and drew it back to Kaberle who shot it on Flyers goaltender Brian Boucher (34 saves) but he left a juicy rebound for Horton to scoop in.

Brad Marchand had the game-winner at 16:17 of the third period, from Dennis Seidenberg and Mark Recchi. Marchand had been blanked for the past twelve games (plus the two he was suspended for) but that tally was extra special since it was his 20th of the season in a big spot. Once again, Boucher left a rebound right in front for Marchand to put in the net.

Boston is now firmly in third place in the Eastern Conference. The Bruins are seven points ahead of Montreal, four points behind Washington and six points behind Philadelphia with seven games remaining.

Tomorrow night is another tough matchup as the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks come to the TD Garden. Chicago has 88 points but they're clinging to the eighth spot in the deeper Western Conference. I'll be there and I expect an up and down, fast-paced game.

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