OK, so here’s the deal for the Bruins and Penguins

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Now that’s Ottawa’s taken care of business in Philadelphia, there’s but one remaining playoff spot in the East for either the Pittsburgh Penguins or Boston Bruins to nab.

Glossing over the fact that this is pretty crazy, here’s the deal for the Pens and B’s, two teams that entered the season with Stanley Cup aspirations:

For Pittsburgh, a win this evening in Buffalo will clinch a spot. Sounds easy, right? Well, it might prove to be. But then again, nothing’s been easy for the Pens lately, and the Sabres do have three wins in their last six. The Pens could also get in with a loser point, but only if the Bruins can’t beat the Lightning in regulation or overtime. They could also get in with a regulation loss, but only if the Bruins lose in any fashion to the Lightning. 

So, for Boston, a victory tonight at Tampa Bay is an absolute necessity. If the B’s win in any fashion, including a shootout, they’d get in with a Penguins’ regulation loss to the Sabres. If they can they beat the Lightning in regulation or overtime, they’d get in if the Penguins lost in any fashion to the Sabres.

Confused? Yeah, me too.

Bottom line: The only way the Bruins can make it is if the Sabres find a way to beat the Penguins.

Chiarelli unsure of his future with Bruins

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Remember two days ago when the Boston Bruins didn’t want to “rely on the last game” to make the playoffs?

Well, after consecutive losses to Washington and Florida, that’s what they’ll have to do. And even if they beat the Lightning tomorrow, it may not be enough. Either the Ottawa Senators or Pittsburgh Penguins would have to slip up too.

And so embattled GM Peter Chiarelli met with reporters today, sounding a lot like a guy who was preparing for the worst.

A sampling of tweets from the assembled media:

We’ll post video of Chiarelli’s availability if it becomes available. But it goes without saying that if the Bruins do indeed miss the playoffs, all eyes will be on CEO Charlie Jacobs to see what he does about it.

Related: Jacobs rips Bruins for ‘unacceptable’ season

Big, bad blunder: Bruins fall against Panthers

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The good news for the Boston Bruins is that their awful Thursday doesn’t knock them out of the playoffs altogether. The bad news is … just about everything else that happened tonight.

As you may already know, the Ottawa Senators held up their end of the bargain with a 3-0 win against the New York Rangers. That allowed Ottawa to bump Boston out of the East’s wild card ranks, but the Bruins could have made that a temporary thing. The B’s failed in that quest, however, falling to the 10th-ranked Florida Panthers 4-2.

(One can imagine that Roberto Luongo was quite happy to spite his pals from Boston, eh?)

The Panthers also did the New York Islanders a favor, as this Boston win punches their ticket to the playoffs.

The final stretch

Let’s look at what the wild card looks while ignoring the Detroit Red Wings’ tight contest against the Montreal Canadiens for now:

Wild card spot 1: Ottawa, 97 points, one game left, 36 regulation/OT wins
Wild card spot 2: Pittsburgh, 96 points, two games left, 38 ROW

Bubble: Boston, 95 points, one game left, 37 ROW

As you can probably see, the Bruins need some help after this more-or-less worst-case scenario night. The Penguins face the now-clinched Islanders on Friday and then the lowly Buffalo Sabres on Saturday while the Senators close out their season against the Philadelphia Flyers. Boston faces a Tampa Bay Lightning team that may still be gunning for the Atlantic Division crown, so they can’t expect a casual opponent.

Ultimately, if Ottawa gets a mere point against Philly, it’s over for Boston. The Penguins only need two points in whatever fashion they may get them in their last two games.

It all looks very bleak for the Bruins, who saw former teammate Jaromir Jagr score his 1,800th career point in painful fashion tonight.

(That’s cold.)

(Seriously, ouch.)

The most positive thing is that many people were once counting out the Senators like they’re counting out the Bruins right now.

Remembering Bruins doing their part for ‘Boston Strong’

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About two years ago, lives were lost and plenty others were shaken by the Boston Marathon Bombings. Eventually, people tried to return to some form of normalcy, which added special meaning to some Boston Bruins games.

Watch the video below for some emotional memories of that time in April 2013, including reflections from former Buffalo Sabres Ryan Miller and Steve Ott (who played for the road team on one especially memorable evening).

Haunted by Holtby: Capitals blank Bruins

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If the Boston Bruins miss the playoffs – a far stronger possibility after tonight – they may pin it to their troubles against one team (the Washington Capitals) and one goalie (Braden Holtby).

Holtby and the Capitals blanked them 3-0 on Wednesday night, sweeping the season series and greatly improving the playoff odds for the Ottawa Senators and the Bruins’ other East bubble opponents.

A game like this can make it easy for people to forget that Boston came into this contest on a five-game winning streak. That’s especially true since the Bruins went out with a whimper, only firing five shots on goal in the third period.

It seemed like Marcus Johansson’s 3-0 goal really deflated Boston, as the B’s had some nice chances before that dagger:

One wouldn’t be surprised if the Bruins thought “there’s no way we can get three or more goals against Holtby,” even if it was subconscious. The 25-year-old goalie stopped all 88 shots he faced from Boston in 2014-15 as Washington beat Boston by a combined score of 9-0.

Holtby’s dominance of Boston is rare, to say the least:

Here’s a simplified version of what the East postseason race looks like right now:

This Claude Julien GIF might just capture how the entire Bruins team (and fan base) feels at the moment:

The Bruins turn around to face the Panthers in Florida tomorrow before closing out their season with a road game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Those games are that much bigger after this humbling loss … but at least they won’t face Holtby.