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Who will Bruins play in first round of Stanley Cup Playoffs?



Boston Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery stands behind his bench during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Saturday, April 13, 2024, in Pittsburgh.


The Bruins might slide within the standings and play the Maple Leafs with a loss on Tuesday.

Jim Montgomery and the Bruins have one final regular-season recreation. (AP Photograph/Matt Freed)

It’ll take Recreation 82 to find out who the Bruins will draw in the beginning of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

A number of postseason seeding slots have already been locked in with three days remaining within the 2023-24 common season.

The Carolina Hurricanes and New York Islanders will duke it out because the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds within the Metro Division, whereas the Maple Leafs and Lightning are entrenched because the No. 3 seed within the Atlantic Division and the highest Wild Card staff within the Japanese Convention, respectively.

However although each Toronto and Tampa Bay can’t transfer from their respective spots, they’re nonetheless ready to search out out whether or not or not they’ll play Boston within the opening spherical — with Recreation 1 presumably set for Saturday, April 20, at TD Backyard.

Boston had an opportunity to clinch the Atlantic Division crown for good on Monday — locking them right into a matchup with the WC1 Lightning — had Jim Montgomery’s staff managed to beat the Washington Capitals at Capital One Area.

However with the Bruins dropping a 2-0 consequence to a determined Caps staff, Boston’s ultimate recreation on the regular-season docket in opposition to Ottawa on Tuesday holds some critical sway.

Because the Bruins battle the Senators at TD Backyard, the Atlantic Division No. 2 seed Panthers will tackle the Maple Leafs and doubtlessly attempt to leapfrog Boston within the standings.

The Bruins (47-19-15, 81 video games performed) at present maintain a 109-108 edge in factors over the Panthers (51-24-6, 81 video games performed).

Boston nonetheless has a number of avenues obtainable relating to profitable the Atlantic (and organising a gathering with the Lightning). A win over Ottawa, a Panthers loss to Toronto in regulation, or Boston and Florida each dropping in additional time would lock Boston into that prime spot within the Atlantic.

In fact, a Bruins loss to the Sens in regulation and a Panthers win over the Leafs would flip Boston and Florida’s spot within the Atlantic. However even a Bruins regulation loss and a Panthers loss in OT would end in Boston getting bumped right down to the No. 2 seed within the Atlantic.

Sure, the Bruins may maintain a 4-0-0 report in opposition to the Panthers throughout common season play in 2023-24. But when Boston and Florida each finish the yr with the identical quantity of factors, the Panthers will win that tie-breaker on account of getting extra regulation wins.

So if the Bruins are centered on profitable the Atlantic and organising a best-of-seven assembly with the Bolts, a win on Tuesday is the best path ahead.

There’s a compelling case to be made that the Bruins ought to go for the choice — dropping Tuesday’s recreation to Ottawa and sliding down the standings so as to play the Maple Leafs as a substitute within the first spherical.

Boston has had its justifiable share of triumphs over the Leafs in the course of the postseason over the past 10+ years. However the Bruins have additionally received seven straight video games in opposition to a Toronto staff loaded with expertise — however nonetheless saddled with just a few flaws, particularly within the D zone.

Though Tampa is perhaps a wild-card staff, they’ve been one of many hottest groups within the league down the stretch — particularly with Andrei Vasilevskiy discovering his kind in web after present process again surgical procedure earlier this season.

Each the Maple Leafs and Lightning determine to be powerful outs for the Bruins within the first spherical, particularly given their elite top-six expertise. However Tampa’s physicality, profitable pedigree, and Vasilevskiy’s resume may make Toronto the preferable opponent for Boston.

In fact, the Bruins know all too properly from final spring that chasing matchups within the postseason can typically be a fruitless train.

No matter who they draw, the Bruins can have their work lower out for them in opposition to both Toronto or Tampa. They usually’ll lastly get a solution about their anticipated first-round foe on Tuesday evening.

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