Playoff Berth Won’t Come Easy for Bruins Who Face Rough Final Stretch

Playoff Berth Won't Come Easy for Bruins Who Face Rough Final Stretch The quest for the playoffs has begun in the NHL. Whether you’re happy, sad, or indifferent with the trade results, the hockey world ceases to rest, and the season must go on. The good news is the Bruins hold the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference. The bad news is they have several teams nipping at their heels.

As we all know, this is when the real hockey starts, and true contenders emerge. Once a team enters that playoff mix, anything can happen.  With 19 games remaining on the Bruins’ regular-season schedule, let’s take out the crystal ball.

March 7 at Pittsburgh Penguins:
The new "King of Canada," Sidney Crosby, is still flying high after his heroic Olympic performance. After adding depth up front and on their blue line with Alexei Ponikarovsky and Jordan Leopold, respectively, the Penguins will be tough to beat at the Igloo.
Projected result: 3-2 Penguins

March 9 at Toronto Maple Leafs:
Round 5 of Kesselmania takes center stage. Whether the B’s have been using Phil Kessel as motivation or not, they’ve had the Leafs' number this season, winning three of the first four meetings. Mark Recchi and Marc Savard have led the charge against Toronto this season with three goals apiece. Both will be looked upon to get the job done again.
Projected result: 4-2 Bruins

March 11 at Philadelphia Flyers: The Flyers will be without their top goaltender, Ray Emery, who’s out the rest of the season with a hip injury. Boston is ready to capitalize.
Projected result: 2-0 Bruins (one empty net goal)

March 13 at Montreal Canadiens:
Montreal goal scorers Michael Cammalleri and Glen Metropolit, along with goaltender Carey Price, can make life difficult for the Bruins. But Boston finds a way to put the puck in the net to avoid going 1-5 against Montreal this season.
Projected result: 2-1 Bruins in a shootout

March 15 at New Jersey Devils:
The Devils have held the Bruins to just two goals in two games this season. Martin Brodeur is riding a record-setting season after surpassing Patrick Roy for most minutes played by an NHL goalie. Unless Boston can generate some offense, New Jersey will get the best of the Black and Gold.
Projected result: 2-1 Devils

March 16 at Carolina Hurricanes:
The Bruins split the first two games with the Hurricanes this season, but Carolina has the third-fewest points in the NHL. And nothing to play for but pride.
Projected result: 3-1 Bruins

March 18 vs. Pittsburgh Penguins:
Forget about rolling out the red carpet for the Penguins. The Bruins feed off the Garden crowd as playoff intensity arrives a few weeks early in the Northeast.
Projected result: 2-1 Bruins in a shootout

March 21 vs. New York Rangers: The Bruins have dropped three straight to the Rangers this season. Marian Gaborik’s offense and Henrik Lundqvist’s goaltending won’t help the B’s get off the schneid against New York.
Projected result: 1-0 Rangers

March 23 at Atlanta Thrashers: While the Bruins are 3-0 against the Thrashers this season, Atlanta has picked up its game and should present a greater challenge for the Black and Gold this time around.
Projected result: 1-0 Bruins

March 25 vs. Tampa Bay Lightning: Boston is 2-1 against Tampa Bay this season. But failing to play a full 60 minutes could catch up with the Bruins. Last time out against the Lightning, Martin St Louis and Steve Downie put up four unanswered goals in the final 25 minutes of play in a furious comeback attempt.
Projected result: 2-1 Lightning

March 27 vs. Calgary Flames: The only regular-season contest of the season against the Flames won’t be a skate in the park. Calgary’s power play and Miikka Kiprusoff‘s dynamite performances in net have done the most damage in past games and will again present a stiff test.
Projected result: 3-2 Flames

March 29 vs. Buffalo Sabres: The Sabres have cooled off down the stretch. This presents a prime opportunity for the Bruins to pick up a win against their Northeast Division rival.
Projected result: 3-1 Bruins

March 30 at New Jersey Devils: The Bruins’ offense is showing life toward the end of the season, and they stomp out a Devils’ season sweep. 
Projected result: 4-3 Bruins

April 1 vs. Florida Panthers: The Bruins have taken two of three from the Panthers this season. To make it three of four, Boston must keep Florida’s leading scorers, Stephen Weiss and Nathan Horton, under wraps.
Projected result: 2-1 Bruins in a shootout

April 3 at Toronto Maple Leafs: Sixth and final round of Kesselmania. Leafs leading scorers Tomas Kaberle and Phil Kessel haven’t been much of a factor against the Bruins. As long as the B’s can keep these two quiet, the Black and Gold should leave Toronto happy.
Projected result:  3-1 Bruins

April 5 at Washington Capitals: One of the league’s best teams has been problematic for the Bruins this season. Washington’s dynamic scoring duo of Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom is always a threat. Boston will need a solution, or it will be a long night in D.C.
Projected result:  3-1 Capitals

April 8 vs. Buffalo Sabres:
The Sabres are back in playoff mode. That could spell bad news for the Bruins, especially with Derek Roy and Tim Connolly throwing pucks on net for Buffalo.
Projected result: 2-1 Sabres

April 10 vs. Carolina Hurricanes: The Bruins are fighting for an Eastern Conference playoff berth.  The Hurricanes are planning Caribbean vacations. Advantage, B’s.
Projected result: 3-2 Bruins

April 11 at Washington Capitals: The Bruins show they can be more than a sparring partner for the Capitals and enter the postseason with some momentum.
Projected result: 3-2 Bruins

Projected finish: 12-7-0
Projected regular-season record: 41-30-11

Winning a Cup won’t be easy. But no one ever said it was.

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