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Playoff scenarios for Bruins as they head into regular-season finale

04.09.16 at 10:52 am ET
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Matt Beleskey

Matt Beleskey

When the points are as important as they are these days, players would much rather go and get them than talk about them. When they do, they stick to cliches.

“We’re trying to fight for our life today,” Matt Beleskey said Saturday morning. It’s do-or-die. We have to win this game and then get some help. It’s a big two points today.”

Platitude-packed as Beleskey’s words were Saturday, not many of them were wrong (the Bruins technically don’t have to win Saturday to get into the playoffs; they could actually get in if Philly helps them more than expected). The Bruins should consider Saturday a must-win if they want to spend next week in Tampa or DC.

First, the Bruins’ scenarios in short:

– They’ll get the third spot in the Atlantic Division with a regulation or overtime win and a Detroit loss, overtime loss or shootout win. They’d also get that spot with a shootout win or overtime loss and a Detroit regulation loss. The Red Wings and Rangers will finish their schedules with a game concurrent to Boston’s 12:30 p.m. start vs. Ottawa.

– They would get the second wild card spot by the Flyers getting no more than one point more than them this weekend. The Flyers play the Penguins Saturday and Islanders Sunday night.

The Bruins should not count on getting the Atlantic spot. The Rangers are sitting a group of banged up and not-so-banged-up players that includes Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girard, Mats Zuccarello and Viktor Stalberg. Additionally, they are starting backup Antti Raanta rather than world-class net minder Henrik Lundqvist. New York is doing this in an effort to fall out of third place in the Metropolitan Division to the first wild card so they could play in the Atlantic.

Obviously, that would do the Bruins no good. If the Red Wings win in regulation Saturday, it won’t matter what the Bruins do. The spot would belong to Detroit.

“We’re not concerned about that,” Brad Marchand said. “I don’t know about the lineup changes.”

Upon being told the Rangers were trying to lose, Marchand responded, “Are they? I can’t really comment on that. We can’t control that.”

What the Bruins can control is Saturday’s game against the Senators.

“They’re a good team,” Marchand said. “They beat Florida last game. I’ve said this plenty of times before: Any team can win on any given night, so you can’t take any team lightly. Regardless of who’s in the lineup, young guys are fighting for jobs and other guys are fighting for contracts and stuff. You can never take any team lightly in this league and you have to be prepared to play your best every night.”

Bruins turn attention to Senators in final game of regular season

04.08.16 at 1:50 pm ET
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Claude Julien

Claude Julien

WILMINGTON — Oddly enough, the Bruins will have technically not had a single must-win game this season. Though the Bruins’ win over the Red Wings Thursday was huge in keeping their hopes of reaching the playoffs realistic, they would not have been eliminated from postseason contention had they lost it.

Same goes for the final game of the season. The Bruins will host the Senators as they hope that they can win while other teams lose, but technically it’s not a must win. The Bruins could lose their final game of the season and get into the playoffs if the Flyers lose later in the day Saturday and then again Sunday night.

Of course, the Bruins would be mad to consider Saturday anything but a must-win. The teams they are hoping will lose games — Detroit and Philadelphia — will face opponents in the Rangers and Islanders, respectively, that have incentive to lose those games for the sake of playoff seeding.

The Bruins will know their fate for the Atlantic Division at the conclusion of Saturday’s game, as the Red Wings are playing at the same time as them. They won’t know their fate as a potential wild card team until late Saturday afternoon at the earliest because Philadelphia plays at 3 p.m. Depending on what happens in the Bruins-Senators and the Flyers-Penguins games, the B’s might need to wait until Sunday night’s makeup game between the Flyers and Islanders to know whether they’re in.

First thing’s first, though: The Bruins need to take care of the Senators at TD Garden. Ottawa has been eliminated since late last month.

“There’s no pressure on them,” Claude Julien said. “There’s no doubt, but at the same time, they played a very solid game last night against Florida. It just goes to show us that no matter what the situation is at this time of year, there are no easy games. There’s a lot of pride. There’s a lot of players playing for jobs. There’s a lot of reasons for every team to want to win hockey games. No doubt if I was in their shoes, I’d say ‘let’s finish on a winning note here,’ so there’s a lot of reasons for them to be motivated for this. Hopefully a lot more reasons for us to be motivated for it.”

The Bruins need to get at least one point in any scenario to get in as the third team in the Atlantic Division. They could lose out and still get the second wild card spot depending on how the Flyers fare.

Here are the very easy scenarios for the Atlantic:

– Any Bruins win and any Red Wings loss on Saturday would put the Bruins in as the third team in the Atlantic Division.

– An overtime or shootout loss for the Bruins and a regulation loss would put the Bruins in over Detroit.

– If the Bruins get a regulation or overtime win and the Red Wings get a shootout win, the teams would be tied in both points and regulation/overtime wins (the first tie breaker), in which case the B’s would get in by virtue of their head-to-head advantage over the Detroit this season.

As long as Philadelphia gets no more than one point more than Boston between now and Sunday (the Bruins play Saturday to finish the season, the Flyers play Saturday and Sunday), Boston will be the second wild card. The Bruins are currently one point ahead of Philadelphia and also have more regulation and overtime wins, so if Philly ties Boston in points, Boston would go to the postseason.

Bruins fans would just barely prefer playing Capitals in first round to having minuscule chance of drafting Auston Matthews

04.08.16 at 12:24 pm ET
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What was posted as a slightly sarcastic poll ended up being pretty interesting.

The Bruins’ best chance of reaching the playoffs would be by getting in on the spot they currently occupy, which is the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. Should they earn that berth, the Bruins would play the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Capitals, a team that boasts a far superior roster and has beaten Boston in all three of the teams’ meetings this season.

So, if the Bruins would presumably get rocked in the first round by Washington, would Bruins fans rather experience that or see their team finish as the final lottery team? The 14th non-playoff team would have a one percent chance of winning the first overall pick and prized center Auston Matthews, and a 3.4 percent chance of getting a pick in the top three. So would fans rather a lottery pick or a potential first-round beatdown? It was 50-50 until the final minutes, with the playoff seed barely being the preference.

The answer to the question should be easy. You should always prefer to reach the playoffs. Getting postseason experience for young players like Ryan Spooner, David Pastrnak, Noel Acciari and Frank Vatrano would be valuable. It also might save the coach’s job. Now, if it were a two percent chance at Matthews…

Casual Friday for Bruins

04.08.16 at 11:21 am ET
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WILMINGTON — Not having a morning skate ahead of Thursday’s game worked so well that the Bruins took it easy again for Friday.

The B’s did have a practice, though it seemed to be an optional that did not focus on any sort of work with lines. Ten forwards, six defensemen and both goaltenders took the ice and were led by assistant coahces Doug Jarvis, Joe Sacco, Doug Houda and goalie coach Bob Essensa.

Injured players Dennis Seidenberg, Jimmy Hayes and Brett Connolly were all missing Friday, suggesting they’ll remain out for Saturday’s game against the Senators. Players who took the option Friday included Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara, David Krejci and Loui Eriksson.

The following players were on the ice Friday:

Forwards: Noel Acciari, Max Talbot, Frank Vatrano, David Pastrnak, Matt Beleskey, Chris Kelly, Lee Stempniak, Ryan Spooner, Tyler Randell, Landon Ferraro

Defense: Adam McQuaid, Joe Morrow, Kevan Miller, John-Michael Liles, Zach Trotman, Colin Miller

Goalies: Tuukka Rask, Jonas Gustavsson


5 things we learned as Bruins blow out Red Wings for important win

04.07.16 at 9:39 pm ET
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The Bruins haven’t been able to get their offense and defense going at the same time too often this season. They did so emphatically on Thursday.

Playing what was essentially a must-win to keep realistic playoff hopes alive, the Bruins scored a pair of goals the first three minutes of the first and two goals in the opening minute of the third as they raced to a 5-2 victory over the Red Wings at TD Garden. The B’s held Detroit to 15 shots on goal, with Tuukka Rask making 13 saves.

After forcing overtime in the final minute against the Maple Leafs, the Flyers lost in OT, meaning the Bruins currently sit one point ahead of them for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. The Bruins will get in if they win in regulation or overtime Saturday and the Flyers do anything other than win their two final games.

Thursday’s victory also left open the possibility of Boston getting the third spot in the Atlantic Division. The B’s and Red Wings are now tied with 93 points on the season, with Detroit having the edge in regulation and overtime wins. If the Bruins win Saturday against the Senators and the Red Wings either lose in any way or win in a shootout Saturday against the Rangers, Boston will get the third spot in the Atlantic.

Here are four more things we learned Thursday:


A late scoring change revealed that what looked to be a David Krejci goal was indeed tipped by Loui Eriksson, giving him 30 goals on the season.

This marks the first time since 2002-03 that the Bruins have had three 30-goal-scorers, as Eriksson joined Brad Marchand (37 goals this season) and Patrice Bergeron (32) goals as Bruins to reach the plateau this season.

Read the rest of this entry »

Max Talbot in, Jimmy Hayes out for Bruins vs. Red Wings

04.07.16 at 6:03 pm ET
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Max Talbot will be in the lineup for the Bruins Thursday night against the Red Wings, marking his first NHL game since Feb. 20. Talbot is playing in place of Jimmy Hayes, whom the Bruins say is injured.

Per line rushes, Talbot will center the third line while Ryan Spooner plays left wing on David Krejci’s line. The lineup for Thursday’s game based on warmups is the following:


Chara-Kevan miller
Seidenberg-Colin Miller

The 32-year-old has played 36 NHL games this season, scoring two goals and adding four assists for six points. In 23 games for Providence, Talbot has nine goals and 11 helpers for 20 points.

Torey Krug says Bruins have ‘do-or-die attitude’

04.07.16 at 5:16 pm ET
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Torey Krug

Torey Krug

If the Bruins had to pay a dollar for every time they said something about “controlling their own destiny,” they might be at risk of having overages against the cap next season.

They can no longer say that, however, and their words these days aren’t as flowery.

“Obviously we need a little bit of help,” Torey Krug said Thursday afternoon.

Even though the Bruins can’t be eliminated until Saturday at the earliest, they should consider Thursday night’s game against the Red Wings a must-win. Beating Detroit would increase their not-so-great chances of either getting the third seed in the Atlantic Division or the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, which would send them to the Metropolitan Division to play the Capitals in the first round.

“We have a job to do. Unless we do our job, we’re going to be out of luck,” Krug said. “It’s pretty much a do-or-die attitude and for that we’ve just got to come out with a good start tonight and make sure we set off on the right foot and have the right mindset.”

The Red Wings are coming off a 3-0 win over the Flyers on Wednesday. They have not fared well in the second games of back-to-backs this season, dropping nine of their last 10. The Bruins, meanwhile, last played Tuesday and did not have a morning skate Thursday.

“We’re focused and we’re feeling confident,” Brad Marchand said. “I think we believe in our team and our group and I think we’re going to be prepared tonight.”

The Bruins failed to control their own destiny by giving away points recently against non-playoff opponents such as Carolina and New Jersey. Now, they face pressure to get points while hoping that either Detroit or Philadelphia will falter in their remaining games.

While the Bruins say they’re determined, determination is only part of it. The bigger issue is that they aren’t playing well, having lost eight of their last 10 games (2-7-1).

“Obviously, as of late, our play hasn’t been where it should be and we haven’t been getting the results that we wanted, so [it’s] a little bit [surprising], but at the same time, you can’t sit there and wonder what if,” Krug said. “You’ve got to make sure that you take the opportunity you have at hand and make sure you go with it and put your best foot forward.”


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