Once again, the Boston Bruins find themselves in another “must win” situation. Once again, everyone that can affect their playoff run plays tonight as well.
The Boston Bruins find themselves in familiar territory tonight. Once again, they’re in a ‘must win’ game in order to keep the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. Unfortunately, every other team trying to kick Boston out of the playoffs are playing tonight as well.
Mathematically, the Bruins aren’t in terrible shape. From an ugly 44% just a few games ago, the Black and Gold are back in a 3-out-of-4 (73.9%) chance of seeing postseason play.
Barring a fantastic surprise, the best Bruins fans should hope for is finishing third in the Atlantic. The Bruins could end up their tonight with a win against the Dallas Stars. The Stars are known for a fantastic offense and sub-par goaltending. If the B’s can keep the pressure on and close up in the defensive zone, it should be an easy win for Boston.
Still, the Boston Bruins aren’t completely in control of their own fate. They will need a little bit of help from teams like the Nashville Predators. The Preds are taking on the Toronto Maple Leafs.
There are plenty of games of importance for Bruins fans to watch (if they can’t find a way to watch the B’s).
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New York Islanders vs Philadelphia Flyers
While it’s not mathematically certain, the winner of this game will drive the loser’s playoff chances into the single digits or worse. The Islanders are four points behind the B’s. A Flyers win would give the B’s a little more breathing room. A Flyers loss would give the team the dubious distinction of having won ten straight games and still miss the postseason.
Detroit Red Wings vs Tampa Bay Lightning
The Lightning have been one of the big hit-or-miss teams this season. They have a gift for coming alive in certain games, and they’re still in the hunt. The Lightning are just three points behind Boston and they’re pulling hard to steal that playoff spot from the Bruins.
A loss by Tampa Bay would sting, but not be totally catastrophic for the Lightning.
The Red Wings are playing for pride, pure and simple. Their streak of 25 straight playoff appearances died this year. The Wings want to put together a few more wins out of respect for Gordie Howe and the end of the Joe Louis era for Detroit.
Florida Panthers vs Montreal Canadiens
The Bruins ancient rivals have a comfortable nine-point lead over the Black and Gold with just six games left in the season. The B’s have to keep pace with Montreal as part of the plan to keep their playoff hopes alive.
The Canadiens could clinch a playoff spot tonight if they beat the Panthers. The Panthers are still mathematically (but highly unlikely) in the playoff hunt right now, and they could pull off a last second ugly surprise of their own if they win their last six games.
Mostly, the Panthers are playing for pride. There enough former Bruins on the Florida team to make sure Montreal will know they were in a hockey game.
Ottawa Senators vs Minnesota Wild
If the Bruins want a little more security for a playoff spot, then they have to keep pace with Ottawa as well. The Sens will be without defenceman Erik Karlsson. Karlsson had played 324 straight games for Ottawa. (He’s played in every game for them since February 16, 2013.) Ottawa currently enjoys a five point lead over Boston.
The Wild have been struggling of late, and they’re looking to right the ship. They’ve gone 1-7-2 in their last 10 games, but still hold onto second place in the Central Division.
I’m happy the Bruins are in a more comfortable place in the playoff race. But if they want to get there, they’ll need a little help from the other teams in the NHL.