The Boston Bruins, currently sitting with the No. 3 seed in NHL’s Eastern Conference, still have two games left to play to determine their first round playoff opponent. With two games left to play over the weekend, the Bruins have a slight chance to overtake the Philadelphia Flyers and capture the second seed, however they would have to win out, and the Flyers would have to lose their season finale to the New York Islanders.
That scenario is entirely possible, as the Flyers have lost five straight and are in danger of losing the Atlantic Division title to the surging Pittsburgh Penguins, winners of seven of their last ten.
While many people may just be happy that the Bruins are in the playoffs, their first round matchup will still be an important test nonetheless. The Bruins’ two most likely first round opponents would appear to be the other two teams from the Northeast Division who made the playoffs, the Montreal Canadiens and Buffalo Sabres.
The Sabres, 7-1-2 in their last ten games, are riding a hot hand and a hot goalie into the playoffs. Certainly everyone knows what a team can do in the playoffs while riding a hot goalie (think Ken Dryden, 1971), and with All-Star Ryan Miller playing arguably his best hockey of the season between the pipes, the Sabres could be a tough draw.
The Canadiens on the other hand are a bit beaten and battered, having lost to the Ottawa Senators in overtime on Thursday and looking listless throughout the game. Coach Jacques Martin did opt to sit several players in that game, including goalie Carey Price. The Canadiens took four out of six from the Bruins during the regular season, however the B’s took the last two games by scores of 8-6 and 7-0.
Considering their more spirited play against the Bruins and their success against them, the Canadiens will be wishing more for that matchup than they would Washington or Philadelphia, or even Pittsburgh.
Early Sunday evening the Bruins will know how their playoff ride will set up, and regardless of who it may be, they just want to be ready.
“The playoffs are right around the corner so we need to get ready for that, not really think about what we’ve done, just move forward,” Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara said.
Bruins fans know that the regular season means nothing, and the Bruins have accomplished nothing. The real season starts on Wednesday night.
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