Hey Bruins, Your Season is in Your Hands, Dude

Hey Bruins, Your Season is in Your Hands, Dude

In what is arguably going down as one of the strangest seasons in Bruins history, there are two reasons that may put the ’09-10 campaign over the top:

  1. The Bruins are playing a game in Atlanta tonight against the Thrashers that is without a doubt the biggest game the Bruins have played to date.
  2. The Bruins are in control of their own playoff destiny. To paraphrase Brandt in The Big Lebowski:

    Brandt

“The season is in your hands, Dude. He wanted me to repeat that. The season is in your hands.”

First, look at tonight’s game. The Bruins sit at 76 points, one ahead of the Thrashers. A win tonight by the B’s – especially one in regulation – puts some much-needed distance between them and the Thrash with 10 games to play.

This game will not be an easy one. People around the NHL expected Atlanta to fold up shop after the Thrashers dealt their franchise player, Ilya Kovalchuk, away. While they did go through a six-game losing streak in mid-March, the fact that no teams around them are playing superb hockey kept them in the race. Now, after a four-game winning streak – including a weekend-sweep of the now-hapless Flyers – the Thrashers are one point out of the playoffs.

In fact, the Bruins may not even need to worry about the Thrashers. Even if Atlanta loses to the Bruins tonight, they have a decent chance of rolling another four-game win streak. After tonight, the Thrashers have four games against Carolina and Toronto. The Hurricanes are making a late playoff push, but it is too little, too late. Toronto has played a bit better of late as well, with three wins in a row, but it is quite possible Atlanta could snag eight points from those games. These five games before the end of March will make or break Atlanta’s season. After April rolls around, the Thrashers have two games each with Washington and Pittsburgh and one with New Jersey. The Penguins and Devils will be fighting for seeding still, so don’t expect them to be resting anyone. Atlanta needs points now and knows it.

The Bruins are in a similar situation as the Thrashers, needing points every night, but are not in such dire straits down the stretch. The Bruins have Tampa Bay Thursday and games left with Florida, Toronto and Carolina. Two road games at Washington are not the most desirable games to have left, but hopefully by then the Bruins have put some room between them and whoever is chasing them.

In fact, as strange as this sounds, the Bruins could be playing for sixth or seventh place by the last few games of the season. While right now most people around Boston are focused on the teams behind the B’s, take a look at the teams in front of them.

Hans Gruber

  • Philadelphia: The Flyers are free falling faster than Hans Gruber at the end of Die Hard. Yesterday it was announced that leading scorer Jeff Carter will be out for 3-4 weeks with a broken foot suffered while blocking a shot during the weekend sweep at the hands of the Thrashers. As Bruins fans know, losing your top scorer severely hurts your ability to… score goals. If that wasn’t bad enough, the Flyers are also without the one goalie who almost knew what he was doing this year (a rarity in Philadelphia) in Michael Leighton. After coming over from Carolina on waivers, Leighton was 16-5 with a 2.48 GAA for the Flyers. He helped them tremendously when free agent signing Ray Emery had his yearly season-ending injury. Now, the Flyers have former (and I mean FORMER – he is 33 years old) Mount St. Charles standout Brian Boucher handling the starting goalie duties. He is 5-14-2 this year. Behind him is their AHL goalie who couldn’t practice yesterday because he is hurt. Not good times down here in Philly. Unless you are a Bruins fan! The schedule isn’t easy on the Flyers either. Games at Pittsburgh and home with the Devils and Red Wings will not be easy and the season-ending home and home with the Rangers will surely make things feel a bit tighter for the Black and Orange.
  • Montreal: Of the four teams looking to claim spots 6-8 in the East, the Canadiens may be the surest bet. It seems like they have settled on Jaroslav Halak in goal and that has allowed the team to rally around one netminder. The Bruins and Habs are done playing each other this season, so there are no head-to-head points at stake. Still, if the Habs are teetering on the brink of playoff extinction, the fans in Montreal will get restless and apply more pressure.

The Bruins are 3-0 against Atlanta this year, but the two teams haven’t met since December 30. It appears as if the Bruins hopefully hit rock bottom last week in the embarrassing loss to Pittsburgh. A spirited effort on Sunday dispatched the Rangers to the group of teams needing a miracle to make the playoffs. The key is for the Bruins to build off that win. Far too many times this season, the B’s have failed to follow a good game up with another solid effort. Doing so renders the previous win moot and kills any momentum the team had. The men in the dressing room should treat this game like a playoff game. A win allows the Bruins to look at the upcoming three-game homestand as a chance to secure their spot rather than make a mad dash back in.

Don’t forget, after the game you can tune in to 4SB’s Bruins podcast, “On The Ice” at 10 p.m. There is no better place to talk Bruins immediately following the game.



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