In spite of a disappointing performance against the Washington Capitals on Wednesday, there’s still a chance that the Bruins could punch a ticket to the postseason on Thursday.
But they’ll need some outside help.
The Bruins can clinch a spot in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs with a win of any kind against the Florida Panthers, provided the Ottawa Senators lose in regulation to the New York Rangers. That combination of results would give the Bruins a two-point lead over the Senators with just one game to play. By virtue of the regulation/overtime wins tiebreaker, the Bruins would then seal a postseason berth regardless of the outcome of each team’s final game.
As the Panthers having already been eliminated from the playoff hunt, it would appear that the Bruins have the easier opponent on Thursday. But the B’s hold only a 5-3 points lead over Florida in their season series – outscoring them just 6-4. The Bruins are also likely to see Roberto Luongo in goal, a netminder who has just a little bit of history with Boston.
Meanwhile, the Senators face the Rangers, who hold the best record in the NHL. The Rangers have already clinched the Presidents’ Trophy and home ice throughout the playoffs. As the Bruins did after securing the league’s top record during the 2013-14 season, the Rangers may opt to rest anyone and everyone who has even the slightest ailment ahead of the playoffs. The Rangers have nothing to gain and everything to lose should a key player suffer a serious injury in a game that is essentially meaningless to them.
The message for the Bruins, however, remains the same as it has been for some time: If they want to extend their year past Saturday’s regular season finale, they’ve got to forget what everyone else is doing, focus on themselves and win. Period.