Bruins playoff hopes take a hit in loss to Capitals
Heading into Wednesday’s contest in Washington against the Capitals, the Bruins knew a win would do them wonders as they try and inch towards a playoff spot during the season’s final week.
Entering play on Wednesday a point behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for the top wild card spot in the Eastern Conference while being tied with the Ottawa Senators for the final spot, the Bruins needed two points in the worst way.
Playing their game in hand on both teams, the Bruins looked to keep their playoff fate in their own hands prior to a set of games in Florida against the Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Bruins knew earning those two points would be no easy task. Trying to prevent the B’s from picking up the win was Braden Holtby and the playoff-bound Washington Capitals.
With two shutouts under his belt against the Bruins so far this season, Holtby was searching for the shutout hat trick in his 24th consecutive start.
He got it.
Holtby made 27 saves en route to his eighth shutout of the season and third against the Bruins this season. Holtby’s shutout streak against the Black and Gold now extends to 188:43 dating back to the 2013-14 campaign.
The loss doesn’t kill the Bruins’ playoff hopes, but it certainly makes things much more difficult for Claude Julien’s club. Instead of leap frogging the Penguins in the standings while creating a two point lead over the Senators with two games remaining, the Black and Gold are now left with a pair of must win contests.
The Penguins, (Islanders and Sabres) Senators (Rangers and Flyers) and Bruins all have two games remaining.
With four possible points available for the Bruins, it seems as if anything less than three points won’t be good enough for the Black and Gold to punch a ticket into the playoffs. And then, even with three points, nothing is guaranteed.
After five straight wins prior to Wednesday’s contest with the Capitals, it looked like an eighth straight playoff appearance was on the horizon. Now their 3-0 loss to the Caps combined with the Senators epic third period comeback Tuesday night against the Penguins and things no longer look so promising.
On Wednesday the Bruins looked like a team who had already been eliminated from postseason contention. They skated like a group who had nothing left to play for — a group that is already looking ahead to the 2015-16 season.
But hey guys, there’s still something to play for.
The Bruins don’t have much time to sulk after Wednesday’s loss. Awaiting the B’s are the Panthers ahead of Thursday’s contest. Eliminated from playoff contention themselves, the Panthers would enjoy nothing more than to essentially end Boston’s season by defeating them in South Florida.
Over the last two and a half weeks, the Bruins, the media and the fans have discussed why the next game is their biggest one of the season. Well, that sentiment has more weight now, doesn’t it?
Thursday’s game with the Panthers is set to be the biggest game of the Bruins’ 2014-15 season.