With last night's shootout loss to the devils, the Bruins' playoff picture has become more confusing and twisted than a Picasso painting on PCP. The Bruins are one of six teams vying for three playoff spots.
If the Bruins win their remaining two games, they're in, no matter what. That's the important thing. They control their own destiny.
Here are the games to scoreboard watch tonight:
Tampa Bay @ Washington
Ottawa @ Toronto
Buffalo @ Montreal
If Buffalo loses, they're mathematically eliminated from the playoff picture. They're essentially out of it anyway, needing a great deal of assistance from every other team in the League in order to make the post-season.
If Washington loses in regulation, then the Bruins only need to get a point in their next two games to clinch a playoff spot. If Washington loses in overtime, then the Bruins need two points in their next two games. If Washington wins, they'll pass the Bruins by virtue of having more wins. But the Bruins would still have a game in hand, and would still be in 8th place.
If Ottawa loses in regulation, then the Bruins only need to beat them (in regulation or OT) Friday night in order to clinch a playoff spot. If Ottawa loses in overtime, the Bruins clinch a spot with a regulation win on Friday OR an overtime win and at least one point against Buffalo on Saturday.
On Friday night, there are two games that matter to the Bruins
Boston @ Ottawa (obviously)
New Jersey @ Philadelphia
Florida @ Carolina
If the Bruins win in Ottawa, no matter what has happened, or will happen, they'll only need a point against Buffalo on Saturday to make the playoffs.
If Philadelphia loses in regulation to the Devils, then the Bruins can clinch with a win in Ottawa OR a win against Buffalo OR a pair of overtime losses against Ottawa and Buffalo. In other words, they'd only need two points in order to clinch a spot. If Philadelphia loses in overtime, the Bruins would still clinch with a win in Ottawa because they hold all the tie-breakers against Philly.
Carolina only has one game left, and if they lose it in regulation, the Bruins get a big boost. The Bruins would only need one point in their remaining two games to "pass" the Hurricanes. Of course, the Bruins won't be ahead of Carolina unless Washington also passes them. It's complicated. Because Carolina leads its division, they're the 3rd seed, even though they have the same number of points as the Bruins and Senators. So consider this an insurance policy in case Washington wins its last two games. Instead of taking a spot from the Bruins, Washington may take it from Carolina.
Saturday has two games of interest to the Bruins
Buffalo @ Boston
Florida @ Washington
If the Bruins haven't clinched a playoff berth by Saturday, they may be in trouble. Then again, they may only need one point against Buffalo to clinch. If the Bruins haven't clinched once they're done with their 82 game schedule, they can still get some help on Sunday.
Pittsburgh @ Philadelphia
If the Bruins still need some help, this game is their last resort.
Tonight's games will clear a lot of things up. And the clinch scenarios will begin again on Friday in Ottawa. The Bruins cannot clinch a playoff berth tonight.
BUT, if Buffalo loses tonight, and so does Washington, and so does Ottawa; then the Bruins are very VERY close to getting in. All they would need to do is get one point in their last two games OR have Washington lose again OR Philadelphia only get one more point.