It's crunch time for the Boston Bruins as they face the end of their campaign. I'm not going to delude myself and pretend that if we make the playoffs, we'll somehow miraculously win the Stanley Cup, or even make it to the Conference finals for that matter. However, I think it's important that the Bruins make the playoffs. It generates revenue, keeps the already disgruntled fan-base from jumping ship, and would provide some good experience for our younger players.
The Bruins are currently 12th in the Eastern Conference, but still in the hunt for a playoff spot. We lost to the Rangers 7-0 last night, which is quite unfortunate as the Rangers are along with us in the playoff hunt. In order for us to make the playoffs, we not only have to do well, but we have to hope several other teams do poorly. Last night was an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone, and instead of doing that, the Bruins got stoned.
The Bruins have 11 games left. Here they are:
3/20 @ Montreal
3/22 vs. Montreal
3/24 vs. NY Rangers
3/25 @ Pittsburgh
3/27 @ Ottawa
3/29 vs. Pittsburgh
3/31 vs. Atlanta
4/1 @ New Jersey
4/3 @ Montreal
4/5 @ Buffalo
4/7 vs. Ottawa
We have three huge games against Montreal, two of which are up in Quebec. These games are vital for the Bruins' playoff hopes. If we can win these games in regulation, it'd be massive. Even if we don't, we have to come out of these games with points, and win some of them. Montreal is 11th in the East, three points ahead of us.
We have a big game with the Rangers on the 24th. New York is in 10th place, four points ahead of us. We have to take advantage of this opportunity to get points while simultaneously preventing the Rangers from getting points.
The two games against the Penguins will be a difficult one. Pittsburgh has the 3rd most points in the Conference, and the 7th most in the NHL. They're playing for both the 4th seed and home ice in the 1st round, and they're still close to New Jersey in the Atlantic Division race.
The two games against Ottawa will also not be a cake walk. Ottawa is only one point behind Pittsburgh in the standings so they're in the race for the 4th seed. They're pretty much in the playoffs, but they're not going to lay down for us.
Atlanta is the Southern Division leader, and they're still in a race with Tampa Bay, so they will be very difficult to beat.
New Jersey has the 2nd most points in the Conference, and the 5th most in the NHL. Yet another difficult team to beat.
Then there's Buffalo, who we've beaten, but they're still one of the best teams in the NHL, if not the best. By April, they'll probably have things locked up, but I doubt that will make them any easier to beat.
We have a very difficult 11 games ahead of us. Our opponents have a weighted average of 85.5 points already, which means they're very good. The worst team we play is Montreal, and two of those games are on the road.
With 11 games left, the Bruins can earn a maximum of 22 points if they win each game. This would give us 95 points, and most likely will also give us a playoff spot. However, winning 11 in a row is quite difficult for any team, let alone the Bruins.
There are essentially two spots legitimately up for grabs in the East. Both the Islanders and Hurricanes have 78 points and are occupying the 7th and 8th spots. The Islanders have played 70 games, Carolina has played 72. Right behind them are the Rangers and Maple Leafs, both with 77 points, both with 10 games left to play. Then there's Montreal with 76 points in 72 games. Finally, the Bruins are hanging on by a fingernail with 73 points and 11 games left.
It's possible, but we HAVE to beat Montreal; do well against top teams like Pittsburgh, Ottawa, New Jersey, Atlanta, and Buffalo; and hope the Islanders, Maple Leafs, Hurricanes, and Rangers all lose games.
If things don't go well in this home and home against Montreal, the season will be essentially over.