Boston Bruins Eliminated from Postseason Contention

Three words can sum up the feeling from the Bruins, coaching staff, team management and their fans: anger, frustration and disappointment.

The Boston Bruins were eliminated from playoff contention on Saturday following the Philadelphia Flyers’ victory over Pittsburgh 3-1. They sat in the second wild card spot with 93 points leading into the afternoon contest. The Bruins needed to beat Ottawa and have the Red Wings lose to the Rangers in regulation to regain control of the third spot in the Atlantic Division. The other scenario involved Boston needing Philadelphia to lose their two remaining games in the event that Detroit claimed the final Atlantic Division position.

The end result was a lopsided defeat at the hands of the Senators, ruining their chance at securing a playoff spot. With nine losses in their last 12 games, the Bruins finished out the season on a low note. They could have avoided hoping for a miracle to get in but unfortunately it just didn’t work out in their favor. Let’s take a look at how they ended up at this point starting with their highly contested match-up against the Red Wings.

Crucial Victory vs Detroit

Entering Thursday’s contest, the Bruins were tied with Philadelphia for the final wild card spot. Detroit sat just ahead of Boston with 93 points and held the last spot in the Atlantic Division. The people in charge of the NHL schedule couldn’t have picked a better match-up for a late season playoff push. Already rivals going back to their Original Six days, Boston desperately needed a strong effort to get back in the chase.

They played arguably their best game of the season in the 5-2 victory on home ice. Quick strikes by David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand within the first three minutes of the game gave Boston an early lead.

They continued to outplay Detroit during the second, picking up a power play goal from defenseman Torey Krug. Krug would end the night with a goal and two assists, making it his third multi-point performance in four games.

The Bruins continued their domination when Lee Stempniak and Loui Eriksson scored 25 seconds apart to start the third period. The Red Wings were scrambling throughout the game, being out-shot 34-15. The Bruins led in every category except hits and takeaways by the end and proved to many doubters that they still had plenty left in the tank.

Beatdown in Beantown

After an inspired affair against Detroit, the Bruins couldn’t have felt better about their postseason aspirations. Fast forward to Saturday afternoon’s game against the Ottawa Senators. By the end of this one, the wheels had fallen off and their playoff hopes were long gone.

An unusual incident involving star goaltender Tuukka Rask led to a shocking announcement by the team:

Talk about taking the wind right out of your sails. In the most crucial game of their season, the team’s backbone all year wasn’t able to play. Jonas Gustavsson got the unlikely start in a pressure filled contest.

The Bs got off to a good start thanks to David Pastrnak’s second consecutive game with an opening goal. Even though it was reviewed for a possible offside play, the goal would stand and give Pastrnak his 15th of the season. TD Garden lit up and erupted to give the home team a much needed early boost. By the end of the game however, those cheers would turn into boos.

Ottawa put on a shooting clinic, peppering Gustvasson with 17 shots in the first period. The worm would turn in the second period however, when Ottawa scored four goals in the first 10 minutes. Poor defensive coverage led to goals from Chris Neil and Matt Puempel, while Zach Smith added a nice redirection and a costly turnover by Adam McQuaid gave Sens forward Mika Zibanejad a gift. Any momentum that the Bruins had quickly evaporated during that time frame and never came back.

The epic meltdown came to a head when Patrice Bergeron let his teammates know how he felt about their effort:

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We all know about Bergeron’s leadership and heart but it was strange that coach Claude Julien nor captain Zdeno Chara had anything to say. In a game like this, you need your best players and leadership group to step up and only Bergeron seemed to up to the task.

When it was all said and done, the Bruins ended their season with a 6-1 defeat and a second consecutive season of missing the postseason. The quotes from the players and coach Julien in the postgame scrum weren’t exactly comforting for Bruins fans.

Those final words from the captain sum up the tumultuous turn of events in the final month of the season. Expect some big changes to come this off season as general manager Don Sweeney looks to find a solution to the Bruins’ major issues.