With the Bruins’ three-game West Coast swing now in the books, a mere nine games remain on Boston’s schedule. And while the B’s failed to take even a single point from matchups with the San Jose Sharks, Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings, they remain in good shape standings-wise entering the final three weeks of the regular season.
Following Saturday night’s 2-1 loss to the Kings, the Bruins sit in third place in the Atlantic Division with 86 points. They trail the first-place Florida Panthers by three points and the second-place Tampa Bay Lightning by one and still own a three-point lead on the Detroit Red Wings, who sit in fourth place in the division and hold the Eastern Conference’s final wild-card spot.
Detroit’s current position is by far the least desirable of the East’s eight playoff seeds, as its occupant will be staring at a first-round matchup against a Washington Capitals team that leads the conference by a full 18 points.
The Bruins play both the Panthers and the Red Wings once more this season, and they finish with a game against another Atlantic foe: the Ottawa Senators, who almost certainly will be watching the postseason from home.
Boston’s remaining schedule actually is very balanced. It includes the three divisional matchups, three more against playoff-bound teams (the New York Rangers, St. Louis Blues and Chicago Blackhawks) and an additional three against opponents with either slim or nonexistent chances of playing beyond game No. 82 (the Toronto Maple Leafs, New Jersey Devils and Carolina Hurricanes).
The Bruins also will play five of their remaining games on the road and four at TD Garden, including each of their final three.
?Things aren?t going to get any easier,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said in an interview with NESN’s Jack Edwards and Andy Brickley after Saturday’s loss. “Everybody?s fighting for a spot. Everybody?s fighting to get into the playoffs and even better themselves going forward. We?ve got a tough road ahead of us, and if we play the way we did in the second and third period (Saturday), we?ll be able to manage that and manage it well.”
Some additional notes from Saturday’s action:
— Tyler Randell, who sat out as a healthy scratch for exactly one month before returning to the lineup Friday night in Anaheim, scored Boston’s lone goal against L.A. The rookie winger has recorded 18 total shots on goal this season and scored on six of them — a freakishly high 33.3 percent.
“Randell now, I think he?s got six goals, and for the limited time he?s had, he?s handled it well,” Julien said. “I thought he?s played two decent games here that he?s been in, so it?s nice to see that you?re able to put some of those guys in there.”
— Your completely useless stat of the night: Randell’s shooting percentage is higher than the 3-point shooting percentage of Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart.
— Fellow rookie Noel Acciari turned in another impressive performance on Boston’s fourth line, showing off his unique blend of speed and physicality. The Providence College product finished tied for the team lead with six hits, and Randell’s goal would not have happened had it not been for Acciari’s play along the boards.
— On the Kings’ side, Milan Lucic was a complete non-factor in his second game against his former team, finishing with zero points, zero shots on goal and zero hits in 16:07 of ice time.
Thumbnail photo via Kelvin Kuo/USA TODAY SportsImages