It’s highly doubtful the Bruins needed another wakeup call, but they’ll have one on Sunday morning when they find out they are out of the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference. It’s a position they haven’t been in for any significant portion of time since prior to Thanksgiving, but it perfectly illustrates the kind of urgency Boston must play with in their final four games of the regular season.
The Detroit Red Wings held on for a 3-2 win over the Maple Leafs, and hopped one point ahead of the idle Bruins for third place in the Atlantic Division. The Philadelphia Flyers also took a 3-2 win over the Ottawa Senators on Saturday afternoon, and continued to firm up their chances of securing the final wild card spot in the East as well.
There is perhaps even more urgency now for all Eastern Conference teams to get into the playoffs by any way possible with the news that Steve Stamkos is out for the next couple of months with a blood clot problem in his arm. The absence of Stamkos in the Lightning lineup means the Atlantic Division side of the Eastern Conference playoff bracket is completely wide open for a team that can get hot over the next couple of months.
So the Bruins enter Sunday with a 70.5 percent chance of securing a playoff spot, according to the Sports Club Stats website, and need a road victory over the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center to reclaim their playoff position.
A win against the Hawks would also continue to finalize the winner-take-all stakes for the Bruins and the Red Wings on April 7 at TD Garden, a battle between two Original Six rivals with major postseason ramifications.
The Bruins hold one game in hand against Detroit headed into Sunday, and the Flyers have games in hand against both Boston (one) and the Red Wings (two) with the best odds of qualifying for the playoffs of the three hockey clubs with just a week to go in the regular season.