WINNIPEG, Manitoba — With two games to go for each of the NHL’s top four teams — the Bruins, Ducks, Avalanche, and Blues — Boston remained at the top of the league Friday morning. But with shootout losses in their last two games, the Bruins’ hold on the top spot is slightly more tenuous than it had been.
Still, the Bruins need just 2 points in their final two games — home against the Sabres Saturday, at New Jersey Sunday — to clinch the Presidents’ Trophy and home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs.
“Especially now that Anaheim’s climbing up — I think they’re only a few points back — and if they win their next two games, then they’ll pull ahead of us,” Brad Marchand said. “So we want to make sure we play really well the next couple games and get some points.”
The Bruins have 115 points, 3 ahead of Anaheim, which was idle Friday, and 4 up on Colorado and St. Louis, who both lost Friday night.
“There hasn’t been much talk of it,” Gregory Campbell said of the Presidents’ Trophy. “It’s on our minds. It’s definitely an added bonus for our team going into the playoffs, to know that we have home ice. I think it’s a good thing to have.
“Having said that, I think what we’re focused on right now is making sure our game’s in place. We do want to accomplish that goal, but the next two games aren’t going to be any easier. It’s going to be a challenge for us. We’ve got to get back to our game.”
The Bruins lost late leads against both Minnesota and Winnipeg this week, leaving a pair of points on the table. The bigger concern, though, is the way the team is playing, something coach Claude Julien was less than enthused about.
So the final two games aren’t really about the points, or about the Presidents’ Trophy, though the Bruins certainly wouldn’t be opposed to winning it.
They are what Campbell called “important games for us, especially because of the last couple efforts. I think we want to get back on track here, head into the playoffs on a positive note, feeling good about ourselves.
“We are still at the top of the league, but efforts like the last couple games unfortunately aren’t going to be good enough down the stretch and in the playoffs. When we meet good teams, they’re going to make us pay and pay when it counts.”
A need to bear down
Ryan Spooner had already gotten his gear on, ready to head out for practice with the Providence Bruins Wednesday, when he was told that he was needed in Winnipeg. He went home, packed, and got himself on a plane through Minneapolis that was supposed to land in Manitoba around 8 p.m.
He made it off the plane safely. His wallet did not.
Spooner — who got his wallet back the next morning — was called up to fill in for Boston, which was without Chris Kelly and Patrice Bergeron against the Jets. It was another chance for the center to impress the Bruins, after he struggled with illness and weight loss at the end of his last extended stint with them in January.
“He just needs to get involved,” Julien said. “You know me well enough now — when guys play at the end of their sticks, it doesn’t sit well with me. He’s capable of getting more involved in areas.
“And, again, I can’t say it enough, we don’t talk about getting involved physically. You go in there and you muck for the puck when you need to get that puck, and you’ve got to show some involvement there.
“He’s been better as of late, from what I hear, in Providence in regards to that. We know he can skate, we know he’s a good playmaker, but if you play at the end of your stick, you can’t play on this team anyways.”
Spooner, who was sent back down to Providence Friday, said his biggest takeaway from this season, at both the NHL and AHL levels, is “just being more consistent, had some ups and downs. I think I’ve got to kind of figure that out.
“Growing up, it wasn’t really something I was used to doing, and being up here and seeing how strong the guys are, you have to be hard on the puck.”
In place of Bergeron on the second line, Spooner played 14:18 against the Jets, with one shot on goal. He was plus-1 in the game.
Under his own power
Marchand scored his 24th goal Thursday, giving him 50 points on the season. None of them, though, have come on the power play, with the winger not being on either of the regular units this season. “I want to contribute whenever I’m out there,” Marchand said. “I’m not called upon to be on the PP this year, but I’ve still got to produce, that’s what I’m expected to do. Even though I’m not on the power play, if I don’t produce, I’m going to get yapped at, so I don’t need that happening. I just want to help the team win.” . . . The Bruins signed Cornell forward Brian Ferlin to an entry-level deal. A 2011 fourth-round pick, Ferlin led the Big Red in goals (13) and points (27) this season.