Another week, and another update, as the Bruins still don’t have a playoff opponent locked in...yet.
The Current Wildcard: New York Islanders (83 points, 6-3-1 in their last ten games), Pittsburgh Penguins (82 points, 4-5-1 in their last ten games)
Things are heating up as the number of points one can feasibly gain begin shrinking, and both squads are peeling out towards the finish line nearly parallel to each other with their engines rapidly deteriorating.
New York had an extremely weird week: dropping a touchdown and extra point on Toronto, and then following that up with a shootout loss to Columbus, and a shutout loss to Buffalo, with New Jersey on the docket for tonight. They’d better bring their A-Game, because New Jersey has been playing some tight hockey these days as they have all season, even if they’re stumbling now instead of looking like a Juggernaut.
Pittsburgh meanwhile had a much busier week, playing much closer games than people might expect, even if one of them was against Ottawa, a team well out of it. They also have a much easier time of it over the upcoming week; playing Detroit and Nashville before April Fool’s Day, where they run directly into Boston.
As of right now, I’m still gonna hedge my bets and say Pittsburgh is keeping the pace, but at this point I’d say the B’s opponent is a coin flip by the end of the week for either of them.
Rapidly losing Ground: Florida (79 points, 6-3-1 in their last 10)
That 6-3-1 is a bit misleading, since Florida has taken to this generous opportunity to prove their worth from a three game winning streak, including a hard-fought win over New Jersey...with a three game losing streak to the Flyers, Leafs, and Rangers. The Leafs and Rangers? That’s acceptable, they’re good teams, but it does hurt. The Flyers loss on the other hand...6-2 against a team that is running on fumes and is constructed from balsa wood and gum should be an easy beat for this Panthers squad. THAT loss hurts more than anything; because without it they’re now an awkward 3 points out of tying with Pittsburgh and 4 points out of overtaking them.
If they want to make any noise, they need to win tonight, and get a win over one or both of the teams of their back to back. This is a difficult stretch for New York and Pittsburgh; getting Ottawa, Montreal and Columbus in the same week is a golden opportunity. Lose the Toronto game if you have to, just don’t give up points to the Sens.
That said...I’m increasingly unsure if they can pull this off.
Next week...we may have our answer finally. Or we may not! The only thing for sure in the NHL is that nothin’s for sure.