The mood in the Bruins’ dressing room after their loss to the Ottawa Senators in the regular-season finale Sunday at TD Garden was circumspect.
Sure, they didn’t win the Northeast Division, as they had hoped. But they’re in the playoffs, they have home ice for the first round, and the loss ensured a matchup against a fellow Original Six opponent — the Toronto Maple Leafs.
There wasn’t a lot of talk about the X’s and O’s of Sunday’s game, which the Bruins lost, 4-2. Instead, it was about moving forward and putting the lockout-shortened regular season in the rearview mirror.
“Playoffs is always a new season,’’ said Dennis Seidenberg. “We turn the page. We know we played a strong game tonight, but not good enough. We had a lot of chances, but again we couldn’t score. We have to work on that and hopefully it comes back in time for the start of the playoffs.’’
The Bruins ended the regular season with two wins in the final nine games, with five losses in regulation and two in overtime or a shootout.
The results haven’t been there, but the players believe their competitiveness has been.
“I think we’ve played with a lot of emotion the last few games, which was important for us,’’ said Seidenberg. “We had a lot of push today. Again, we just couldn’t score and get those necessary goals. They just did on their chances and that’s what killed us at the end.’’
When asked if the Bruins were ready for the postseason, Seidenberg said they will build on the good aspects of their game and strive to improve the not-so-good ones.
“There are positives, for sure, that we can take out of this game,’’ he said. “We’re going to have a couple of days to get ready for the playoffs. We’ve got the experience in here to play in the playoffs and know what it takes to win. Everybody is going to be ready to start Game 1.”
No one would argue that the Bruins’ offense is anemic compared to what they need it to be. In the final nine games, they scored just 18 goals. Seidenberg said it wasn’t for a lack of trying.
“Who doesn’t want to score goals, right?’’ he said. “We do get shots, we do have chances, but we just have to bear down. If we do that, I think we’ll be fine.’’
The Maple Leafs and Bruins are squaring off in the playoffs for the first time since 1974. Boston won three of this year’s four regular-season meetings.
“The playoffs are a new chapter,’’ said Seidenberg. “Everybody has the right to play for it and everybody starts from zero. You’re going to have to take them as serious as ever and play our best hockey.’’
The Bruins know that the Leafs aren’t going to make it easy.
“They’re young, they’re energetic, and they’re really skilled up front and play solid in the back,’’ Seidenberg said. “It will be a good challenge.”
Seidenberg feels the Bruins are poised to elevate their game in the playoffs.
“I think everybody is really looking forward to it, especially like we have played in the last few weeks,’’ he said. “Like everybody knows, we haven’t played our best hockey in the past, so we are ready to start fresh and start strong.
“We’ve been trying [to take a step up]. Not to just say, OK, we are going to turn the switch on, that’s why we tried to play with a little bit more emotion in the last few games and just get into the games strong and a little more energetic. For the most part, we’ve done that, we just haven’t scored enough goals. We are playing with a lot of emotion, which I think is the most important thing. You’ve got to just focus on working hard and the rest will come.’’
Winning the Stanley Cup in 2011 comes up often, but Shawn Thornton ignores that talk. If the Bruins are going to accomplish anything this postseason, it will be on their own merits.
“I’m a little sick of talking about two years ago,’’ said Thornton. “That was a long time ago. It’s a new team, it’s a new chapter. Just because we accomplished something two years ago doesn’t mean it’s going to be automatic. We should have that, I guess, anger and hunger that we haven’t been as good as we were then. I’m more focused on trying to prove it again.’’
Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.