In a perfect world for the Boston Bruins, everything would fall into place just right. Clearly, the B's don't live in that world — that's a fact that has been hammered home time after time this season.
Fortunately, the guy who was largely responsible for ending the B's season last year (Cam Ward) helped preserve the Bruins' season this year by putting forth a downright heroic effort in the closing seconds of Wednesday night's game against the Canadiens. The netminder made two huge saves in the final 23 seconds to keep the score at 2-1 and prevent the Canadiens from picking up at least a point.
In doing so, Ward and the Hurricanes (sounds like a decent band name, by the way) kept the Canadiens in a three-way tie with the Flyers and Bruins for sixth place in the East (with the tiebreakers putting Philly in sixth and Boston in seventh).
So that's the good news on that end. The rest of that good news is that a 30-34-12 Florida Panthers team is coming into the TD Garden, fresh off an evening of getting whooped by the Buffalo Sabres 6-2. The Bruins should be able to handle the Panthers, but in that perfect world, it would take them some extra time.
The reason is that the Panthers (72 points) are dangerously close to getting passed in the standings by the Toronto Maple Leafs (69 points). That's important, of course, because the Leafs' first-round draft pick belongs to the Bruins. The Leafs currently are second-worst in the NHL, and if they finish in that position, the Bruins would hold an 18.8 percent chance of winning the draft lottery and taking the first pick in the draft. At the very worst, the Bruins would have the third pick in the draft, though they'd very likely land the No. 2 overall pick.
If the Leafs improved to third-worst, the B's chances would drop to 14.2 percent, and if the Leafs finished fourth-worst, the Bruins would have a 10.7 percent chance.
While winning in overtime would kill two birds with one stone, so to speak, the Bruins will obviously be focused on simply winning a hockey game — but sitting on your couch, you at least have one more thing to root for on Thursday evening.