Is there such a thing as a 'good loss'?
|Did a loss to the Wings actually help the Bruins? (via D. Reginek/AP)|
This notion can come into play with large sample sizes such as tanking an entire season or smaller cases like an individual game basis.
A team bottoming-out for a whole season in hopes of securing the next franchise player? Seen it plenty of times.
Bill Belichick (allegedly) telling Matt Cassell to chuck the ball into the third-row to end the game and set up a more favorable matchup in the Wild Card round of the playoffs? We've seen that too! (Allegedly).
Last night's game between the Bruins and the Red Wings may not have had quite the same manipulative tactics behind it, but the possible gains could be reaped nonetheless.
The Bruins sit atop the Eastern Conference with 110 points. The Pittsburgh Penguins sit nine points behind with 101 points. Both teams are not budging from their spots, as no team in either division will catch the B's or the Pens. All we have now in the final six games is to decide who will get the first or second seed.
And baring anything catastrophic, the Bruins will most likely secure the overall spot in the East in the next few games. They can do themselves wonders by beating the Maple Leafs tonight in Toronto.
The way the playoffs work now is the first-overall seed in the conference will play the second wild-card team in the first round. The second-seed will play the first wild-card team. If the playoffs started today, the Bruins would host the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Penguins would host the Red Wings.
Give me the inexperienced and unproven Blue Jackets.
Detroit's win over Boston gave them 86 points on the year. Given their pedigree for being one of the most accomplished hockey club's in the last two decades, it'd be a good bet to assume the Wings will solidify their spot in the wild-card standings in the last handful of games to go.
The Blue Jackets currently hold a slim one-point lead over Toronto, who have 82 points. The Capitals are right behind them with 81. Even though New Jersey has an outside shot at getting into the dance (they have 80 points), having to hurdle over three other teams is a near impossible task.
The Bruins will be favored over any team they play, but if it's the likes of Columbus, Toronto or Washington that stroll into the Garden come April 16 instead of Detroit, you'd have to like their chances even better.
That's not to say any opponent will be an automatic for the Black and Gold. Do we need to be reminded of the upsets that take place every year in the NHL playoffs? The 2009-10 Montreal Canadiens may be the greatest example ever, as they knocked out the President's Trophy-winning Washington Capitals in round one and then did in the defending Cup champion Penguins in round two. Looking back on some Bruins history, the Maple Leafs had Boston dead to rights last year with 10 minutes to go in Game 7. Anything is possible.
That being said, you just don't want to mess with the Red Wings. They have a talented team with a strong goalie and a coach that knows how to push his team to greatness. Injuries have been the greatest struggle for the Wings this year, but if they can get their star players back in the lineup and ready to go in a few weeks, they are a team that will not go down quietly.
The Red Wings also don't play into the Bruins's style, maybe more than any other team in the NHL. Every year Detroit is either last or in the bottom three of team fighting majors. This year is no different: they have just seven total, good for last in the NHL. The Bruins have 44, putting them second behind Toronto.
The Bruins play their best when things get physical and punches get thrown. They feed off the energy of the crowd and off the frustrations of their opponent. When the other team engages the Bruins and tries to fight back they set themselves up to fail. Boston starts to skate faster and hit harder. That element of their game would be practically eliminated if these two teams were to meet up in the playoffs.
Last night's loss meant little for the Bruins save for the end of a few streaks and a mere delay on clinching the overall seed in the conference. That will come soon. In the meantime, the two points go to Detroit, and forecasting things just a bit, the Penguins should start game-planning for Hockeytown very soon.
You're welcome, Pittsburgh.