Thursday, March 25, 2010
That's a bear stretching.
What a difference a year makes. With 10 games to go last year, the Bruins had just reached the 100 point plateau. But in a way, the Bruins are playing better right now then they were 72 games into the 08-09 season. The Bruins actually struggled down the stretch last year, if you remember.
This year, of the Bruins' remaining 10 games, 6 are at home, 4 on the road. This might actually be a bad thing, as the Bruins have been much better away from the Garden (42 points on the road compared to 36 at home).
5 of the remaining 10 games are against teams that are currently in the playoffs. 1 game is against Calgary, who stand 9th out West. 2 games are against mediocre teams (Tampa Bay, Florida), 2 are against horrible teams (Toronto, Carolina).
Those 5 games against playoff teams aren't easy. Two games in Washington (who would play the Bruins in the playoffs were the season to end today), a game in New Jersey, and two home games against the Northeast leading Sabres.
Believe it or not, the B's can still mathematically win their division. Of course, they'd need Buffalo to lose all 11 of their games (in regulation), they'd need to win all 10 of their own games, and hope Ottawa only gets 5 points in their remaining 8 games, and Montreal only gets 9 points in their remaining 9. It's not going to happen.
The realistic goal for the Bruins should be 7th or 6th place in the East. There's a big difference between playing Washington and playing Pittsburgh, New Jersey, or Buffalo. A 6th seed would be ideal, because the Bruins matchup well against the Sabres. They're 3-1-0 against Buffalo this season.
But first thing's first: make the playoffs. The Bruins' magic number (how many points they need to mathematically clinch a spot) is 15. Now that's if Atlanta wins every single game they have left. And I think we all know that won't happen. So really, I think 10 points will be quite sufficient to assure the Bruins a playoff spot.
10 points, in 10 games. But more needed if the Bruins want to secure a favorable 1st round opponent.
I've been pretty pessmistic about the Celtics this season. And despite beating the West's #3 team by 14 points, I still don't have confidence in this old team to go past the 2nd round of the playoffs.
BUT, there was a time not long ago when making the playoffs was an absurd dream. And there was an even lengthier stretch when winning the Atlantic Division was an impossible task.
But the Celtics are in the playoffs for the 3rd straight year. And that deserves some mention, some applause. And the magic number to clinch the division is 2.
There's still work to do. The C's are tied with Atlanta for 3rd in the East. The difference between a 3rd seed and a 4th seed is time. As in the time you face the #1 seed Cavaliers, in the 2nd round or in the 3rd.
AP Photo/Elise Amendola