|04.08.16 at 1:50 pm ET|
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.
|04.08.16 at 12:24 pm ET|
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.
Bruins fans: Which would you prefer?
— DJ Bean (@DJ_Bean) April 7, 2016
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…
|04.08.16 at 11:21 am ET|
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
|04.07.16 at 9:39 pm ET|
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:
BRUINS GET ANOTHER 30-GOAL-SCORER
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.
|04.07.16 at 6:03 pm ET|
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:
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.
|04.07.16 at 5:16 pm ET|
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.”
|04.07.16 at 12:36 pm ET|
Regardless of how Thursday’s meeting goes, the B’s can forget about the Red Wings after Thursday night. This is because the race for the third spot in the Atlantic Division seems all but settled.
Detroit has a two-point lead over the Bruins and has won two more games in regulation or overtime than Boston. The Wings also play the Rangers in their final game of the season; the Rangers’ current standing as the third team in the Metropolitan Division might give them incentive to lose in an attempt to slip to the first wild card spot so they can play in the Atlantic, which figures to be the easier division.
At any rate, the Bruins should consider a regulation win over Detroit the only acceptable outcome of Thursday’s meeting. Not only would it keep faint hopes of getting the Atlantic spot alive, but it would give the B’s a decent chance of getting the second wild card spot given that the Flyers lost to the Wings in regulation Wednesday. In other words, the game that put the Wings firmly in the driver’s seat for the Atlantic spot also made Philadelphia’s spot more attainable for Boston to grab in the coming days.
When it seemed the Bruins would be an Atlantic playoff team, a two or three-round run in the playoffs seemed at least possible given the lack of legitimate contenders in the Eastern Conference. If Boston gets in on the second wild card spot, however, it would mean they would face the Presidents’ Trophy winning Capitals in the first round.
So while the B’s would still make the playoffs, their stay likely wouldn’t be long. The Caps are the class of the Eastern Conference and beat the B’s in all three regular-season meetings (Boston went 0-2-1 in such games).
One percent chance at Auston Matthews aside, barely making the playoffs and then getting rocked in the first round would still be better than missing the playoffs altogether. Postseason experience for players like Ryan Spooner, David Pastrnak and Frank Vatrano would be valuable. Furthermore, reaching the postseason could save Claude Julien’s job if it’s in jeopardy.