The Boston Bruins didn’t do themselves any favors over the final week of the regular season, losing two of their final four games to drop to second place in the Atlantic Division.
The late skid means the Bruins will face the Toronto Maple Leafs, who finished third in the division, in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs rather than the New Jersey Devils, who secured the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot and a date with the Tampa Bay Lightning in Round 1. The Bruins even controlled their own destiny in their regular-season finale, with a chance to win the division with a victory, but they fell to the Florida Panthers 4-2 on Sunday at TD Garden.
The Maple Leafs, who finished with 105 points in the standings, seemingly pose a greater first-round threat than the Devils, who finished with 97 points. The Bruins (112 points) aren’t panicking, though, and there are plenty of reasons to believe Boston will defeat Toronto in the teams’ first-round playoff series, which begins Thursday night at TD Garden.