What’s left to accomplish this regular season?
Last Sunday, the Bruins clinched a playoff spot after a 2-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. On Saturday, the Black and Gold captured their second Northeast Division championship in three years in a 3-2 victory over the Atlanta Thrashers.
So is there anything left for Boston to accomplish in 2010-11?
If you take a look at the current Eastern Conference standings, the Flyers and Washington Capitals are currently tied for first with 103 points with identical 46-22-11 records. However, Philly owns the tiebreaker with their 2-0-2 (six points) record against the Caps, and also has more regulation wins this season (43 compared to Washington’s 42). But while Philly has the tiebreaker over Washington, the Bruins have the advantage over both teams shall there be a tie between one (or even both) of the teams.
With 99 points, the Bruins currently secure third place in the East and have one game in hand on both the Flyers and Caps. That will change tonight obviously when the Bruins face the Rangers for the final regular season meeting of the year at Madison Square Garden.
Things could get a tad bit interesting atop the Eastern standings if the Bruins can come away victorious against a potential first round playoff opponent. Looking at the three games after tonight, the Bruins face three teams who have already been eliminated from playoff contention — the Islanders, Senators and Devils. But compare that to the Flyers’ remaining three games — Sens, Sabres and Islanders — and the Capitals last few contests — against the Maple Leafs and Panthers (twice) — and you have a pretty similar schedule, thus making the Bruins’ chances of moving up in the standings a little more improbable.
One thing is pretty certain, even if the Bruins move up in the standings, the list of potential first round opponents would stay the same even if they move up in the standings.
If the season ended today, the Black and Gold would, once again, face the Montreal Canadiens in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The Habs currently lead the seventh place Buffalo Sabres by one point and the eighth place Rangers by two, all of whom have three games remaining this regular season. The Carolina Hurricanes and Toronto Maple Leafs are on the outside looking in, but unless the Bruins wind up as the top team in the East then chances of the two teams meeting in the first round are pretty slim.
While the Bruins won’t know who they’ll face in the first round until Sunday (at the latest), they will still look to gather a little more momentum — whether they move up in the standings or not — heading into the playoffs.