Tonight marks the Boston Bruins 82nd game of the season. The last and final regular season matchup. But of course, the stakes are still high. Bruins are looking for two points and to secure a first-place finish in the East.
Tonight’s matchup against the Florida Panthers marks the third game between these two in just nine days and the fourth of the season. This is the makeup game for the snowed-out one on January 4th.
Florida now has nothing to play for, except maybe some pride. After yesterday’s results, they were eliminated from playoff contention. However, that is not the case for the Boston Bruins. They are playing for not only first in their division, but the East entirely. Which, will dramatically change their first-round opponents.
Gameday 82! Boston Bruins Need Win for First in East
The Boston Bruins clinched a playoff spot on March 21st. They clinched home-ice in the first round on March 31st. But yet, here we are on April 8th, the last game of the season, and positioning is still up for grabs. Currently, in second, they are one point behind Tampa. But, the first tiebreaker favors Tampa. Therefore, a win, whether in regulation or overtime is needed.
Now, why is getting the win and first place so important? Well, I for one, and many others understand the difference in playing the New Jersey Devils versus the Toronto Maple Leafs. No disrespect to New Jersey, who obviously is a strong team, led by Taylor Hall. But, that is a much more favorable matchup for the Boston Bruins.
Understanding What’s at Stake
Tuukka Rask will start in net tonight. That was announced by Bruce Cassidy last night after the win over the Ottawa Senators. Cassidy also said, “There’s pressure, obviously, to win, you want that No. 1 seed. When you have pressure and you have expectation, what does that tell you? It means you’re good. So you’ve got to be able to handle it. As a professional athlete, you want that. There is an expectation. We’ve raised that during the year. In November, I don’t think it was there. It was, ‘Let’s get in. Let’s play well, see where we can go.’ Now, what have we got here? We can have home ice throughout the whole playoffs. We’re a very good home team.”
The Bruins may have started last week shaky with a few tough losses, but now the power is back in their hands. A win gets them what they want. They know that and now it is time to play like it.
No word yet on the return of Rick Nash. He has been skating the past few days and as of yesterday, was questionable for tonight. We do know that Riley Nash will not be in action tonight. Ryan Donato was a little banged up during last night’s game after taking a shot to the side. But, he returned and should be ready to go for tonight.
No matter the result tonight, the Boston Bruins have had a remarkable season. They have put themselves in position to enter the playoffs number one. If they play “their game” and what they are capable of, the Bruins should walk away from tonight with two points.
Also, it should be mentioned that tonight will be Rene Rancourt’s last regular-season game singing the National Anthem. A Boston legend and a great man.