The Boston Bruins schedule from October to February has been relatively generous and they have taken advantage of it. But their time playing mostly sub-.500 teams ran out and the end of the year has a lot planned for them.
Tough End of the Season
On Tuesday, the Bruins begin their final stretch of the regular season in hopes to clinch a playoff spot. But from that game on, they will have no more than one day of rest in between games for the remainder of the season. Boston will play their last 19 games and will only have 15 total days without one scheduled. Certainly, the Bruins will have to overcome a task they have not seen yet this season.
For the next month, the Bruins will play some playoff-ready teams in the Washington Capitals, Philadelphia Flyers, and Tampa Bay Lightning. Surely, these teams may be a potential matchup for the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs, so it is vital that the Bruins show signs of success against them.
Teams To Watch
Tampa Bay is in direct competition with the Bruins for the first spot in the Atlantic. They are also battling for the top spot in the Eastern Conference and the Lightning have 94 points with only 16 games remaining.
With 88 points and 19 games left, Boston will have to play perfectly in their three games-in-hand to make up the point differential. If they do make up the difference, they would likely play the New Jersey Devils or Columbus Blue Jackets, who sit in both wild card slots. If they don’t, the Toronto Maple Leafs will likely be Boston’s first opponent in the playoffs.
The Washington Capitals have been a problem for Boston in recent years. Bruins and Capitals fans alike remember the Eastern Conference quarterfinals when seventh-seeded Washington ended second-seeded Boston’s hopes at a Cup repeat in seven games.
The last time the Bruins defeated the Capitals was March 29, 2014. Since then, the Bruins have gone 0-10-3 against them – not a great statistic against a team that frequently appears in the postseason.
Philadelphia, another tough opponent for Boston, has shaken up the league. The Bruins have two opportunities to slow their success. After not being a threat for the first half of the season, the Flyers climbed to the top of the Metropolitan Division before being bumped down one spot by Washington.
Season Series with Florida Panthers
Boston will also play the Florida Panthers four times in the final stretch – the entirety of their season series. The Panthers currently sit in the first spot out of the playoffs and will need to play near-flawless hockey to get into the postseason. Seeing a team four times in 25 days is a formula for some physical hockey. This could be the perfect opportunity for the Bruins to get used to seeing a team often. Although one playoff series doesn’t take that long, it is probably the closest they’ll come to it during the regular season.
What’s Next For Boston
The Bruins will play the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday in their fourth and final game of the season where Boston can complete the series sweep against them. Detroit, which sits near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, will be one of Boston’s final opponents. They are out of contention for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. For the Bruins, this means that they must capitalize on beating these kinds of opponents in order to keep a steady finishing pace.
Boston must also stay healthy in order to have success. They are currently without Charlie McAvoy, Tuukka Rask, and Patrice Bergeron – all players who are vital to their system. The Bruins expect McAvoy and Rask back shortly, but Bergeron will have to wait a little longer. Until then, the remaining Bruins roster will have to play a little tougher to keep the team in the spot they sit in now.
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