The Boston Bruins are set up nicely for the playoffs after securing the Presidents’ Trophy their last time out.
In their final tuneup before the postseason, the Bruins go for a franchise-record fifth consecutive road win over the New Jersey Devils, who turn to Martin Brodeur on Sunday for what could be his last appearance with the team.
Boston (54-18-9) had suffered back-to-back shootout losses at Minnesota and Winnipeg before closing its regular-season home schedule with Saturday’s 4-1 win over Buffalo. David Krejci scored twice as the Bruins locked up the NHL’s best record and home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs.
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"We’ve still got to do some work here in order to get the trophy that we all really want," said coach Claude Julien, whose team improved to 14-2-1 in afternoon games.
Patrice Bergeron continued to come up big, tying Jarome Iginla for the team lead with his 30th goal. Bergeron has scored 11 and recorded six assists during a career-best 13-game point streak.
The Bruins’ 117 points are third-most in team history behind their 121 in 1970-71 and 119 in 1971-72 when they won the Stanley Cup. Boston claimed its only other Presidents’ Trophy in 1989-90.
"We need to play a really strong game and feel good about our game going into the playoffs," Krejci said.
While the Bruins outscored foes 31-8 in going 8-0-1 over their final nine home games, they are 0-1-3 in their last four on the road for their longest skid away from home since 2012. However, Boston has taken six of seven in New Jersey, including four straight by a combined 19-8 score.
The Bruins are 12-2-0 in their last 14 against the Devils overall.
New Jersey (34-29-18), eliminated from playoff contention earlier this week, has managed just three goals during an 0-1-2 slide after Friday’s 3-2 shootout loss to the Islanders. Brodeur made 28 saves but suffered his fifth loss in six starts.
While Brodeur admittedly hasn’t played as much as he would have liked this season, he’ll be in goal for Sunday’s finale. The 41-year-old veteran, who has expressed interest in playing in 2014-15, has spent his entire career with the Devils but is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.
"I’ll just take everything in," Brodeur told the NHL’s official website. "I’m going to go out there and try to do my best and enjoy playing the game and have fun out there. It’s kind of hard. I’m just going to go out and play like it’s another game, but definitely knowing in the back of my mind it might be my last one I’m going to play here, any for a while.
"I’ll try to enjoy it as much as I can and, I think, for the team, too, we owe it to the fans, they’ve been really supportive throughout this season, to go out and make a good last impression."
Brodeur, 1-8-2 with a 3.37 GAA in his last 11 starts against Boston, is the NHL’s all-time leader with 687 wins and 124 shutouts.
Fellow future Hall of Famer Jaromir Jagr, signed to a one-year deal in July, is also uncertain to return. The 42-year-old right winger leads the Devils with 41 assists and 65 points.
"We’re so close in age that we relate a lot to different things," Brodeur said of Jagr. "It was really interesting to spend a whole year with him, I really enjoyed it. I think it’s a great example of what hockey should be all about. He’s having fun playing, he’s playing the game hard."