Bruins Control Their Own Destiny

With just two games and three days remaining in the regular season, the Boston Bruins are in grave danger of missing the playoffs. After winning five straight games, one would imagine they would have a bit of breathing room in the standings. Yet, Ottawa’s comeback from a 3-0 deficit against the Penguins leaves them with 95 points, the same amount as the Bruins. Though the B’s have the tiebreaker, they’re not in a great situation. They need to pick up some points in these final two games, but they need the teams around them to help them out a bit, too.

Against the Capitals, the Bruins laid an egg once again, failing to get one past Braden Holtby for the third time this season. Coach Claude Julien decided to mix up the lines for the game and broke up the Ryan Spooner line in the process.

Even though the Bruins offense wasn’t firing on all cylinders during their winning streak, at least they were winning games. Julien still hasn’t figured out how to properly utilize all of his forwards, especially since Brett Connolly and David Krejci returned from their injuries. His ability to get some production out of these lines could determine his future with the team.

Taking on the Panthers tonight, the Bruins NEED to win. The chances of Ottawa remaining at 95 points for the final two games are slim and unlike the Bruins, they are playing like they want to make the playoffs. The Senators will play the Rangers tonight, who are sitting Rick Nash, Mats Zuccarello, and Marc Staal because they essentially have nothing to play for. They’ve clinched the Presidents’ Trophy and realistically, would probably like to see Ottawa make the playoffs over the Bruins. The Senators and Andrew Hammond have caught lightning in a bottle, but how long will it last?

Former Lightning Brett Connolly will return to Tampa on Saturday in the season finale. (image via wikipedia)
Former Lightning Brett Connolly will return to Tampa on Saturday in the season finale. (image via wikipedia)

After the Rangers, the Senators will play the Flyers on Saturday afternoon. The Bruins take on the Lightning that night and will know how many points the Senators will have finished with, which could make their game a do or die situation.

The Senators aren’t the only team the Bruins need to keep their eye on. The Penguins, who were virtually a lock a couple of months ago, have just one more point than the Bruins and Sens. Their three goal collapse against the Senators was the low point of their ever-worsening season, but they’re not in the clear. They have a tough game tonight against the Islanders, but they have what should be an easy two points against the Sabres on Saturday. Expect the Penguins to finish with at least 98 points.

The Red Wings remain in reach for the Bruins, too. With 97 points, they play in Montreal tonight and in Carolina on Saturday. Although they have one more win in regulation or overtime, the Bruins hold the head-to-head advantage, meaning a Bruins regulation or OT win tonight and a Red Wings regulation loss would put the Bruins into third place in the Atlantic. The Red Wings would need the Senators to leapfrog them in points, though, to miss out on the playoffs.

The Bruins can’t just play like they did last night and hope for these other teams to lose their remaining two games. Although there will be some scoreboard watching, the Bruins need to show us what they are really made of. There have been a handful of games down the stretch where the Bruins needed to play their best, last night included, and they failed to show up. There’s no more room for error anymore.

Dear Bruins -win these final two games and you’re in the playoffs. Expect the Senators, Red Wings, and Penguins to win their final two games- don’t take anything for granted.

Playoff hockey is one of the most exciting times in the sporting world and there is no reason this team- this roster- shouldn’t be a part of it. However, if they don’t play 110% these final two games, they don’t deserve to be a part of it.