In an up-and-down 2014-15 regular season that has been filled with so many unexpected stops and starts, it is rather remarkable that the Bruins head into their final three games this week totally in control of their own playoff destiny. Boston (41-25-13) is riding a five-game win-streak (tying its season-high) after surviving a 2-1 shootout victory over Toronto (30-43-7) on Saturday in its TD Garden regular season finale. The B’s are at Washington (44-25-11) on Wednesday (8 p.m., NBCSN) and Florida (36-29-15) on Thursday (7:30 p.m., NESN) before they wrap things up in Tampa Bay (48-24-8) on Saturday (7:30 p.m., NESN). With 95 points, the Bruins are currently tied with the Penguins and Red Wings but they are in seventh-place based on tiebreakers. Boston can finish anywhere from fourth in the Eastern Conference to out of the top eight entirely.
New right wing Brett Connolly enjoyed his first taste of the Garden as a Bruin against Toronto. He didn’t quite have the same impact as he did last Thursday in his B’s debut at Detroit when he had two assists in a 3-2 comeback win, but it’ll take some time to feel like himself again after missing a month with a broken finger.
“I’m looking forward to a fresh start and I’m excited to finally be out there,” said the former 2010 first-round –pick (sixth overall) of the Lightning.
The Senators (40-26-13) are the only team left in the East - outside of the playoff picture - that could bump the B’s from the playoff picture. Ottawa is 6-2-2 in its last 10 games but a 3-2 shootout loss at Toronto on Sunday could prove extremely costly to its postseason hopes.
Assuming the B’s make the cut, the only team that Boston really does not want to see in the first round of the playoffs is Montreal (48-22-10), which finished 4-0 against the Bruins in the regular season and is currently the No. 2 team in the East. The Habs knocked off Boston, 3-1, in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals at the Garden last spring and it feels like the B’s would be lucky to push it that far against their most hated rival in another series. As luck would have it, if the playoffs started today, those Original Six and Atlantic Division foes would meet. Boston matches up well with the Rangers (50-21-7), but Tampa Bay (48-24-8) appears far more ripe for an upset. New York and the Lightning are the No. 1 and No. 3 seeds, respectively, in the Eastern Conference.
It’s easy to get bogged down by all these playoff scenarios but all the Bruins can do is pick up points and continue to look inward.
“We just need to focus on our game and ourselves,” noted center Chris Kelly. “We don’t want to look at other teams and what they are playing for; we have to battle hard right until the end.”