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It’s been a while since the Boston Bruins were in a race to make the playoffs.
In the 2009-2010 season, the Bruins found themselves in a playoff race against several teams like the Montreal Canadiens, Philadelphia Flyers, and etc. The Bruins managed to go 6-3-1 in the final 10 games of the season, squeezing in as the #6 seed that year. They dug themselves a hole in January, going 2-10-4 for a stretch, one of the worst stretches for any Claude Julien Bruins team.
The Bruins are now in similar territory from 5 years ago, fighting to keep the #8 seed in the Eastern Conference. They've hit a couple of 10 game stretches that resulted in a 3-6-1 (December) and 2-6-2 (February), digging themselves a big hole. The standings sure does reflect that (as of 3/9/2015):
With Florida, Ottawa, and Philadelphia (to an extent – they certainly didn’t do themselves any good by losing 3 out of their last 4) chasing the Bruins, the next two weeks for the Bruins will be crucial in creating some breathing room.
Here is a quick break down of the Bruins schedule against some important opponents in the next couple of weeks.
March 10th & March 19th – Both games @ Ottawa
Right now, the Senators are the biggest threat to the Bruins. The Senators have a game in hand and are down 5 points to the Bruins. Seems relatively harmless compared to Florida, but these two upcoming games are what makes them a threat.
Senators are playing great hockey and are 8-1-1 in their last 10 games. They certainly are heating up at the right time. The Bruins somehow need to win these two games against Ottawa to keep them from getting any closer. These two are must-win games.
March 12th & March 23rd – vs. Tampa Bay and @ Tampa Bay, respectively
The Lightning are ahead of the Bruins in the standings, so catching up to them seems pretty close to impossible. But that’s not why these two games are important. The Lightning may just end up being a 1st round match up for the Bruins, if they make the playoffs. It’s important to set the tone against a team that you may face again in the future, especially one you possibly might see for 7 games in the playoffs. The two teams face off in the last game of the season as well.
Plus – who doesn’t want to see Cedric Paquette vs. Zdeno Chara again?
March 15th - @ Washington
The Bruins are chasing the Capitals in the #7 seed race. Currently, the Bruins have two games in hand and are down 6 points. If you do the math, the Bruins would be only down 2 points if they matched Washington in games. So what would a win against them in this game do? Exactly, the Bruins would be tied for the 7th seed. Of course, it’s naïve to think that the Bruins would win every game until they face off against Washington, but you just never know.
March 21st - @ Florida
For obvious reasons.
Many of these games are away, which presents an even bigger challenge for the Bruins. They need to treat every game like it’s the playoffs, which will surely bring out some exciting hockey. That’s great news for Bruins fans, as exciting hockey has been missing for a good chunk of the year.
The next two weeks should bring out the real identity of this team. How will they respond when they are directly faced with a challenge? There aren’t too many games left in the season and the Bruins realize that. They have been talking the talk most of the season, saying all the right things. But time for talk is running out.