Seven more days. One more week of regular season hockey. That’s all.
The current Eastern Standings as of April 3:
Boston’s three remaining games:
Tuesday vs Tampa Bay
Thursday vs Ottawa
Saturday vs Washington
Toronto’s five remaining games:
Monday at Buffalo
Tuesday vs Washington
Thursday vs Tampa Bay
Saturday vs Pittsburgh
Sunday vs Columbus
Ottawa’s five remaining games:
Monday at Detroit
Tuesday vs Detroit
Thursday at Boston
Saturday vs New York (Rangers)
Sunday at New York (Islanders)
Tampa Bay’s four remaining games:
Tuesday at Boston
Thursday at Toronto
Friday at Montreal
Sunday vs Buffalo
Two weeks ago, the Bruins were in the middle of a four-game losing streak. Once again their playoff hopes seemed to be shrinking and many were counting them out for the third year in a row. But, something changed. The hopeful Bs are now riding a five-game winning streak heading into their final three. This is the longest winning streak of the season and seems to be coming at the right time. During this streak, their playoff odds have dramatically increased.
After a successful weekend for Boston, they jumped from the second wild card spot to second divisional spot. With back to back day games in different time zones over the weekend and the second against the top team in the West, having the Bruins come out with all four points is a surprise to many. However, thanks to the unbelievable 41-save game by backup goaltender, Anton Khudobin, the Bruins are riding hot as the head home for the final three games of the season.
With those three games left, they are only one point ahead of both Toronto and Ottawa, who both have two games in hand. Both teams are in action tonight. That means, the Bruins could fall all the way back to the second wild card spot, without even playing a game. If that is the case, the Lightning come to the Garden Tuesday night, with a game in hand and only four points back. But, the playoff odds as of now are still at over 90%.
It’s simple. Win and you’re in. If the Bruins win in regulation on Tuesday night, they are in the playoffs, regardless of Toronto and Ottawa’s outcomes tonight. A loss Tuesday night, would mean the Bruins would most likely need to win out. If that happens, and assuming Tampa Bay wins their remaining four (worst case scenario), one being against the Bruins, then they would be tied with 96 points. However, the Bruins have the big advantage in ROW (currently 41 to 35), so they would win the tiebreaker and be in. I bring this up as a reminder that the Bruins missed the playoffs last season by losing the tiebreaker to Detroit. This year, ROW favors Boston.
Granted Toronto and Ottawa both win their games tonight, all three teams (BOS, TOR, OTT) could clinch a playoff spot Tuesday night. Which would mean Tampa Bay’s chances are done. Tonight, both Toronto and Ottawa are favored in their respective matchups, as both Buffalo and Detroit are well out of the playoff race. If this happens, the rest of the week is at least a little less nerve-racking.
Imagining all three teams clinch on Tuesday, the rest of the week is about seeding. In other words, it is all about which two teams will play each other and which will end up facing the heavy favorited Washington Capitals in round one. At this point, Montreal appears to be the one seed in the Atlantic. Numerically, if they win one more game in their last four, they will hold that one seed. The New York Rangers, for what seems like the majority of the season, are safely in the first wild card spot. While they have been struggling as of late, both Boston and Tampa Bay do not have a chance of reaching 100 points this season. That means, Boston, Toronto, Ottawa and Tampa Bay are fighting for three spots.
Boston and Ottawa’s fourth and final matchup of the season on Thursday is sure to be one to remember. These two teams ended last year’s regular season schedule together, where Ottawa blew Boston right out of the playoffs with a 6-1 rout. This season, the Sens are 3-0 against the Bs with a combined score of 10-5. The absolute worst case scenario would be the Bruins depending on a win on Saturday against the Washington Capitals.
Other Playoff Scenarios for Boston:
– As I said, a loss Tuesday night, but two wins in the last two games, is still enough to make the cut.
– If the Bruins go 1-1-1 (3 Points), then Tampa must lose one of its remaining games in regulation or OT.
– If the Bruins go 0-1-2 or 1-2-0 (2 points), then Tampa would have to go either 3-1-0 or 2-0-2.
– If the Bruins only get one or zero points, then things start to be reminiscent of the previous seasons and they will depend on losses from the Lightning, Islanders, and Hurricanes.