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Bruins' next three games should decide their fate for 2016-17 season

The Bruins will have to scratch and claw their way to a playoff berth.Getty Images

If you haven’t really paid attention to the Bruins (26-23-6) yet so far this season but will be tuning in more regularly now with the Patriots’ Super Bowl run over, welcome. You picked a good time to jump aboard this bumpy ride since truthfully these next three home games for Boston, packed into four days, could go a long way to deciding whether they make the playoffs for the first time in three years or not. The Bruins host the Sharks (33-17-4) on Thursday (7, NESN) in their first game under interim head coach Bruce Cassidy since Claude Julien was fired on Tuesday. Next is an afternoon matinee on Saturday (1, NESN) vs. Vancouver (23-24-6) and then the homestand wraps up with a visit from Montreal on Sunday night (7:30, NBC Sports).

It’s been a strange week already for the B’s since they last played on Saturday (a frustrating 6-5 loss to Toronto) and then following the meeting with the Canadiens, Boston has its schedule bye week. They won’t play again until the following Sunday in San Jose (8:30, NESN) which kicks off a four-game road trip in California (San Jose, Anaheim and LA) and Dallas. After Sunday, the Bruins only have one game left at TD Garden in February which is probably a good thing since they are 12-13-0 there this season (1 of the reasons that Julien is gone since this team was awful at home last season as well).

Apparently, Boston’s front office felt like a couple days of practice before Cassidy’s head coaching debut was quite important, hence why they fired Julien when they did. Regardless of when it went down, the Bruins can’t afford to lose more than one of the next three games in regulation. I’m thinking that they need to earn at least four out of a possible six points (two wins or a win and two overtime/shootout losses) at the tail end of this homestand to keep their heads somewhat above water. They’ve dropped to ninth in the Eastern Conference as Toronto (25-17-10) has leaped two points above them with still three games in hand. To make the postseason, their better shot might be at the second Wild Card spot since Philadelphia (26-21-7) is only one point ahead of them with one game in hand. Keep in mind though that the “prize” of getting eighth-place is a likely date with the powerhouse Capitals (37-11-6) who would have a great chance at sweeping the Black and Gold.

“Our focus now goes on getting better every day and the process of how we’re going to win games,” said Cassidy. “Our focus is on our pace in practice, which needs to be higher, and playing on our toes as opposed to our heels.” The Sharks won the Western Conference last season and at the moment, they look like they can repeat since they have the second-most points in the West. The Canucks are not a good team and the Bruins will be facing them when their bodies will feel like it’s a 10 am start so they’ll need to take advantage of that. The Habs need no introduction, they are poised to win the Atlantic Division and they have had their archrival’s number for years.

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