The Bruins may have lost their game against the Philadelphia Flyers yesterday, but they were still able to end the weekend feeling good.
Why? The Tampa Bay Lightning lost to the Nashville Predators last night by a score of 4-1. When you combine that loss with the point the Bruins earned yesterday thanks to Patrice Bergeron’s late goal, the Bruins are now in the Atlantic Division driver’s seat.
Currently, the Bruins have 110 points with 4 games remaining (GR). Tampa Bay has 108 points with 3 GR. The two teams play Tuesday night in Tampa Bay.
What it boils down to is that the Bruins can all but clinch first place in the Atlantic Division with a regulation win on Tuesday night.
If the Bruins win in regulation...
The B’s would have 112 points to Tampa’s 108. Given that Tampa would only have two games left, the best they could do would be 112 points.
This means the Bruins would have to lose their last three games in regulation and Tampa would have to win its last two games in regulation or overtime (TB would then own the ROW tiebreaker) for the Bruins to end up finishing second in the division. (ROW is regulation or overtime wins, for those unfamiliar.)
Given the number of three-point games played in the NHL on a given day, that scenario is highly unlikely for Tampa. A regulation win for the Bruins on Tuesday would all but sew up first in the East.
If the Bruins lose in regulation...
Things get interesting!
The Bruins and Tampa would be tied at 110 points apiece, but Tampa would have the edge in ROW, 47-46. The teams would be in sprint for points down the stretch.
After Tuesday, the Bruins at the Florida Panthers, vs. the Ottawa Senators and finish at home against Florida on Sunday.
Tampa plays at home vs. the Buffalo Sabres on Friday before finishing at Carolina on Saturday.
If the Bruins and Tampa end up finishing tied in ROW, the Bruins would win the tiebreaker due to a better head-to-head record.
If one team wins in OT or a shootout...
It’s pretty much the same scenario as above: a sprint for points down the stretch. If the game ends in OT, it would be a big ROW boost for the winning team. A shootout win makes things even more confusing
In all likelihood, neither team will play a desperate team down the stretch.
Florida is seven points behind New Jersey for the second wild card spot with just five games left; it would take a colossal collapse by the Devils and a perfect run by the Panthers for those games to matter.
The Bruins are in a good spot. Thursday’s win, coupled with a three-point weekend, gave them a cushion.
A win tomorrow night in Tampa would all but finish off the Lightning.