The Bruins did their heavy lifting Saturday with a statement victory over the Lightning.
That win proved that the Bruins can hang with the back-to-back-to-back Eastern Conference champions on the scoreboard and in the bruising category, and it was enough to officially clinch the Atlantic Division for the Bruins.
But Sunday’s road head-to-head with the Hurricanes, though a borderline meaningless game (especially given the circumstances of that game), felt like it was more than that. The Bruins traveled down to Raleigh with the expectation that they were going to treat it like it meant something with a full NHL lineup. It just felt like the Bruins needed to get a win in that building (their last one entering Sunday came back in the 2019 Eastern Conference Finals) before the playoffs to feel confident should the sides meet in the playoffs.
And while I played armchair coach checkers with that game, Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery played real coach chess. Because imagine how their confidence is doing after doing exactly that, but without Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and Hampus Lindholm in their lineup?