The Boston Bruins were without defenseman Dougie Hamilton in the third period of Saturday’s game against the Florida Panthers.
The 21-year-old Hamilton, who recorded his 32nd assist of the season on Boston’s tying goal in the second period, left the game with an undisclosed injury, the Bruins announced via Twitter.
David Krejci continues to get closer to a return to the Boston Bruins lineup, although according to Amalie Benjamin of the Boston Globe, that’s not guaranteed to happen Saturday.
When he does come back, don’t bet on Ryan Spooner, Boston’s 2010 second-round pick, being taken out of the lineup to make room for Krejci.
On Thursday, in a loss to the Ottawa Senators, the 23-year-old Spooner scored twice and had seven shots on net. Earlier this month, he had a point streak that reached seven games, and it looks like his recent play has left a favorable impression on head coach Claude Julien.
“I think everybody here knows that Ryan Spooner is playing well. I’m going to be honest with you: he’s not coming out of our lineup playing the way that he is,” said Julien, as per CSN New England.
“That’s just doing the right thing and he deserves it right now. We’ll just have to figure out what we’re going to do from there [when Krejci does return].”
The Bruins are in Florida to take on the Panthers on Saturday.
It’s another important game. The Bruins are only two points up on the Senators for the final Wild Card spot in the East. The Panthers are still hanging around in the playoff race, sitting just five points back of Boston.
The Boston Bruins can’t afford to have many more nights like this. They certainly held their own against the Ottawa Senators and had more success opposing goaltender Andrew Hammond than any of his previous adversaries, but the Bruins still suffered a 6-4 loss tonight. While that was happening Boston’s only other serious rival in the battle for the second Wild Card seed, the Florida Panthers, earned a 3-1 victory against Detroit.
The Bruins still hold their Wild Card spot, but the Senators are now just two points behind despite having played in one less game. Florida is five points shy of the Bruins.
An obvious case can be made that Ottawa is the bigger threat to the Bruins at this point. Not only are the Senators closer in the standings, but they’ve been unreal lately with a 13-1-1 record beginning with Hammond’s first start of the 2014-15 campaign. The Senators have a great opportunity to continue that hot streak on Saturday against the lowly Toronto Maple Leafs, which they will play an additional two times after that contest.
By contrast, Florida has been largely treading water lately, but the Panthers got starting goaltender Roberto Luongo back tonight from a shoulder injury. He turned aside 25 of 26 shots in his return. Luongo’s return should help the Panthers cause, but more importantly, Florida has a golden opportunity to do direct damage to Boston as its scheduled to play against the Bruins three times in its final 11 games. The first of those meetings will occur on Saturday.
Meanwhile the Bruins have now lost three straight games in what has proven to be a roller-coaster season. They’ve come back from some serious cold streaks already in 2014-15, but they likely can’t afford to endure another with the Wild Card race this tight.
With just four points dividing the Ottawa Senators and Boston Bruins in the battle for the second Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference, it was fair to expect their game tonight to be a good one. Few would have predicted this eventful of a start though.
Kyle Turris needed just 19 seconds to give the Ottawa Senators a 1-0 lead thanks to a juicy rebound surrendered by Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask.
Ottawa didn’t get to enjoy the lead for long as Boston forward Carl Soderberg even the score less than a minute into the contest. Senators goaltender Andrew Hammond, who briefly left the ice just before the start of play due to a minor skate issue, didn’t look particularly good on this one.
Ryan Spooner netted his fourth goal of the season at 4:04 to give the Bruins a 2-1 lead.
Hammond has tied a 76-year-old record by allowing less than three goals in each of his first 12 career starts. If he wants to claim sole possession of that record, he’ll need to be perfect for the remainder of the game.
Of course, given the importance of this game for Ottawa, he doesn’t need to look to the record books to find reasons to stay motivated.
We did this yesterday for the Kings. Let’s do it today for the Boston Bruins, who still have some work left to make the playoffs.
The B’s woke up this morning in Ottawa just four points clear of the streaking Sens, with the two teams meeting tonight at Canadian Tire Centre. (Ottawa also holds a game in hand on Boston.)
A win tonight would, obviously, be huge for the Bruins. But they’d still, in all likelihood, need to win four or five more of their remaining 11 to make the playoffs…
…and only in that home game against Toronto will the Bruins be heavily favored.
True, the ‘Canes are a bottom-five team and Boston gets to play them. Except the ‘Canes outplayed and defeated the B’s the last time they met in Raleigh. (In fact, that was the performance that preceded Charlie Jacobs’ stinging words.)
Look, chances are, the Bruins are going to make it. They’ve only lost once in regulation in their last 10, and Sports Club Stats has their odds at 70.6 percent. They’re a good team (maybe not as good as they used to be, but still good) and they control their own destiny.
But with just four home games versus eight away, not to mention three sets of back-to-backs, there are certainly no guarantees.
Or, to put it another way, the jury is still out.