It all comes down to the 82nd game of the Boston Bruins season.
Thanks to the blizzard that hit Boston and canceled the Bruins-Panthers game back on January 4th, we’ve got an extra day of hockey. It just so happens that the extra day is going to decide two sets of playoff match-ups.
Unlike this morning, however, things are a little more straightforward. Here are your Bruins playoff scenarios:
If the Bruins beat Florida in regulation, overtime or a shootout...
The Bruins would finish with 114 points to the Tampa Bay Lightning’s 113, meaning the Bruins would finish first in the Atlantic.
The Bruins would face the New Jersey Devils, who got the second wild card spot after they lost to the Washington Capitals and the Philadelphia Flyers beat the New York Rangers.
The Lightning would face the Toronto Maple Leafs.
If the Bruins lose in regulation, overtime or a shootout...
The Bruins would finish with 112 (regulation loss) or 113 (OT or shootout loss) points, tied with Tampa. Tampa would win the regulation/overtime wins tiebreaker, 48 to 47.
The Bruins would face Toronto in the first round, while the Lightning would face New Jersey.
Do the Florida Panthers have anything to play for?
Nope. The Panthers kept their season alive by beating the Bruins on Thursday, but things came to an end for them today with Philly’s win. The Panthers are officially eliminated.
This makes things kind of dicey for the Bruins. If you remember, late in Thursday’s game, Colby Cave laid out Aleksander Barkov. Barkov stayed on the ice for a few moments before skating off; he didn’t return, missed tonight’s game and will not play on Sunday night.
Right after that hit, a Florida defenseman took a run at Brad Marchand.
Will the Panthers be looking for a pound of flesh after Cave took out Barkov? You’d hope not, but it’s a scary proposition for the Bruins.
So there you have it! It’s much more straightforward than it was this morning.
Do the Bruins go for first and start their full squad, knowing the Panthers might want to take liberties? Or do they rest some key guys and let a lesser lineup battle for first?
See ya tonight!