It’s a very frustrating time to be a fan of the Boston Bruins. Just under a month ago, the Bruins were in a comfortable playoff position and had a near 90% chance of making the playoffs. Now, the B’s have dropped four games in a row, and are barely holding onto the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.
For the third season in a row, the Black and Gold are engineering their own exit from the playoffs. As of today, the Bruins chances of making the playoffs are now 44.2% That’s the first time they’ve been under 50/50 since Bruce Cassidy took over nearly two months ago. (When the Bruins let Claude Julien go, the B’s playoffs chances were at 53%.)
The Boston Bruins now have eight games left in the regular season. Their next game is against the team most likely to supplant them in the playoff race, the New York Islanders. If the Bruins lose on Saturday, they’ll have lost any control over their playoff destiny and will have to rely on luck and a lot of other teams losing to get in this season.
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It’s an ugly cycle that seems to keep repeating itself on Causeway Street.
Thursday night’s game against the Lightning highlights all of the B’s current struggles. The B’s got a goal from David Pastrnak. The Lightning tied it up less than a minute later. The B’s got a short-handed goal from Zdeno Chara, only to give up a power play goal less than thirty seconds later.
It then took Tampa 95 seconds to get the lead back after Riley Nash put in the third Bruins goal.
The Lightning than responded with three third-period goals that took the game away from Boston. The first one was a shot from the face-off circle that easily sailed by Tuukka Rask.
A few days ago, I wrote an article telling the fans not to panic about the Bruins and their chances of making the playoffs. I’m wishing the Bruins actually read that piece now. There seemed to be an air of panic in a lot of them on Thursday. From Bruce Cassidy on down, the B’s played sloppy hockey and it hurt them in their playoff run.
Bruce Cassidy was visibly frustrated at the post-game presser. With every loss, the odds of him losing the ‘interim’ title drop like the B’s playoff chances.
“At the end of the day, it is a focus, and it’s urgency, and it’s understanding time and score,” said a disappointed Cassidy. “We did not have a good comprehension of that tonight, I don’t think, and of late. We’ve let games get away, and you can look back, even this year, we’ve had some goals scored against us late throughout the course of the year. It’s been built in this year, and we’re still fighting through it, to be perfectly honest.
“It’s a mindset that we’ve just got to get harder and understand the stakes, and what’s required after you score a goal. I think winning teams get through that, and we’re fighting through it this year. Some nights, we’ve been good at it. We’ve had resiliency, I think. It’s just, lately, it’s creeping in, and we’ve got to nip it in the bud now.”
The Bruins should have nipped in the bud two games ago. History seems to be repeating itself again in Boston. It’s an ugly thing to see. Hopefully, the Black and Gold will figure out their issues and come back strong on Saturday.