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Why clinching Atlantic Division may not be best for Bruins and their NHL playoff hopes



Why clinching Atlantic Division may not be best for Bruins and their NHL playoff hopes

BOSTON — The Bruins missed out on an opportunity to assert the Atlantic Division on Monday evening after they had been shut out by the Washington Capitals. Boston could make up for it Tuesday evening with a win over the Ottawa Senators at TD Backyard of their remaining sport of the common season.

However the query is, do the Bruins really need the Atlantic crown and the first-round matchup with the Tampa Bay Lightning that comes with it? We’ll get a good suggestion on a solution when the B’s take the ice in opposition to Ottawa on Tuesday.

With one sport left for Boston, the Bruins presently sit atop the Atlantic Division with 109 factors, a single level forward of the Florida Panthers. The Panthers may even play their remaining sport of the common season Tuesday evening after they host the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Bruins will clinch the Atlantic and arrange a first-round assembly with the Lightning (the highest wild card crew with 96 factors coming into Tuesday evening’s motion) if any one of many following three eventualities play out Tuesday evening:

-A Bruins win in any trend
-A Panthers loss in regulation
-Each groups lose in additional time or a shootout

And here is what would want to occur for the Bruins to complete second within the division, which might arrange a first-round matchup with the Toronto Maple Leafs (third within the Atlantic with 102 factors):

-A Bruins loss and a Panthers win
-A Bruins loss in regulation and a Panthers loss in additional time or a shootout

Florida has a 41-36 edge over Boston in regulation wins, so the Panthers personal the tie-breaker over the Bruins ought to the 2 groups end with the identical quantity of factors. 

Now, who would the Bruins favor to play when the postseason arrives in Boston on Saturday? Each the Lightning and the Leafs possess gifted offenses that may rating in bunches, with Toronto atop the Japanese Convention with 297 objectives coming into Tuesday. Tampa Bay is correct behind them with 285 objectives. Boston is fourth within the East at 266 objectives scored this season.

However the Bruins completely personal a kind of groups, and would possible favor to see them when the puck drops for the playoffs this weekend.

That might be the Leafs, whom the Bruins have beat within the first spherical thrice in recent times; in 2013, 2018, and 2019 — all in heartbreaking seven-game sequence. Boston received all 4 matchups this 12 months throughout the common season, outscoring the Leafs 14-7. The Bruins received every of the final two matchups 4-1, with Jeremy Swayman making 60 saves throughout the 2 victories.

The Bruins have had a lot much less success in opposition to Tampa Bay, each throughout the season and in latest playoff matchups. The Lightning received three of the 4 regular-season conferences, together with the newest matchup, 3-1, in Tampa a couple of weeks in the past. Linus Ullmark was 1-1-1 with a 2.28 GAA in his three video games in opposition to the Lightning, whereas Swayman suffered a 5-4 additional time loss within the first assembly of the season again in November regardless of making 47 saves in internet. 

The 2011 Bruins beat the Lightning in a dramatic seven-game Japanese Convention Ultimate en path to their Stanley Cup championship, however Boston hasn’t received a playoff sequence over Tampa Bay since. The Lightning despatched the Bruins house within the second spherical of each the 2018 and 2020 NHL playoffs.

So the B’s would in all probability prefer to keep away from a first-round assembly with the Lightning. However enjoying good groups goes with the territory within the playoffs, and the doubtless top-seeded Bruins ought to welcome any problem.

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