Bruins’ playoff hopes take big hit after comeback falls short vs. Chicago

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“Almost” might just be a word that will haunt the Boston Bruins after Sunday.

It’s possible that people will use that word regarding a failed playoff bid, and it’s definitely something that can be trotted out regarding their 6-4 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks this afternoon.

For quite some time, it looked like the Blackhawks would absolutely humiliate the Bruins. Tuukka Rask was chased from the Bruins’ net, Patrick Kane hit the 100-point plateau with a huge output and Chicago roared to a 6-0 lead.

Fittingly, some quick goals changed the feel of this one.

The Bruins managed a pair of goals in little time to give themselves more confidence heading into the third period, and things really got interesting there, with the B’s closing the gap to a 6-4 lead for Chicago.

Ultimately, Boston didn’t reach the finish line, even with an “almost” or two in the late stages.

Now, keep in mind that the Bruins aren’t mathematically eliminated by any stretch.

Still, it’s a defeat that may haunt the Bruins. The Detroit Red Wings are one point ahead for the third spot in the Atlantic Division, with both teams holding three games remaining. The Philadelphia Flyers are also one point ahead of the Bruins with 91 standings points … and Philly holds two games in hand.

So, yeah, this hurts. Even so, the Bruins can keep hope alive by noting a huge April 7 game against the Red Wings, and the fight they showed even if it ended up being too little, too late.

It’s “almost” as if this was a death blow, but luckily for the Bruins and their fans, that’s one almost that’s on their side.

Note: the Blackhawks get the win … but Marian Hossa may be injured. More on that later on Sunday or when an update comes.

Patrick Kane gets hat trick, hits 100 points, makes Bruins miserable

Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane (88) scores a goal past Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask (40) during the first period of an NHL hockey game Sunday, April 3, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Jeff Haynes)
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You know how the Boston Bruins were off to a rough start while the Chicago Blackhawks dominated the first period?

Yeah, it got worse for Boston.

The Blackhawks are off to a 6-0 lead deep into the second period of what’s more or less a must-win game for the Bruins. Tuukka Rask was given the early hook, yet things really didn’t get much better afterward.

Patrick Kane is really taking the spotlight, however.

With a hat trick and an assist, Kane’s enjoying a special afternoon, hitting the 100-point mark for the first time in his career. (And likely becoming the only player to do so this season, barring a blazing run by Jamie Benn or someone else close-ish to the mix.)

In the near-certain instance that Kane’s points lead remains, he’ll be the first American player to win the Art Ross Trophy. Honestly, it might not even be close.

WATCH LIVE: Huge game for Boston Bruins at Chicago Blackhawks on NBC

Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask drops to the ice to make a save as Chicago Blackhawks right wing Kris Versteeg, left, hovers for a rebound during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Thursday, March 27, 2014, in Boston. Rask shut out the Blackhawks in the Bruins' 3-0 win. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
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The Boston Bruins probably haven’t played a more important game against the Chicago Blackhawks since the two teams jostled for a Stanley Cup.

Really, this is one of their most important games since then, period.

As of Sunday, the Bruins are on the outside of the playoff picture looking in, but one win can change that outlook … at least for a little while. Read more about the various scenarios here.

It’s Scott Darling vs. Tuukka Rask in the nets, and plenty of talent on both sides. Enjoy the action on NBC and stream it via the link below.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

What’s on the line today: A lot for the Bruins, West spoils for Stars

Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien instructs his players during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Chicago Blackhawks in Boston, Thursday, March 3, 2016. The Bruins defeated the Blackhawks 4-2. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
AP

There are some interesting hockey scenarios to monitor if you can resist the siren call of Wrestlemania and/or opening day for baseball.

One that won’t be listed in “clinching scenarios”

Today’s Boston Bruins – Chicago Blackhawks game is on NBC, and it’s a big one for the Bruins.

As of this moment, the B’s are outside of the East playoff picture, but only by a small margin. Winning today would get them back in the mix, and would also make it easier to catch the Flyers if the Red Wings pull away.

It’s probably easiest to follow it visually, right?

via NHL.com
via NHL.com

So, yeah, this is a huge one for the Bruins.

OK, now let’s check the clinching scenarios

Via the NHL:

  • The Stars could clinch the Central Division title and the top spot in the West with any sort of win against the Anaheim Ducks and if the Blues lose to the Avalanche in regulation.
  • The Panthers will clinch a playoff spot if the Bruins lose in any way.
  • The Wild would clinch their spot if they beat the Jets in any way and if the Avalanche lose to the Blues in regulation.

In other words … a fair bit of scoreboard-watching for fans on Sunday.

Red Wings take Bruins’ playoff spot (for now)

Detroit Red Wings' Brad Richards (17) celebrates with teammates after scoring against the Toronto Maple Leafs during first period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Saturday, April 2, 2016. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP)
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The Philadelphia Flyers may see their astounding hot streak end and make the situation more complicated, but right now, it’s looking a lot like a playoff spot might come down to one of the Detroit Red Wings or Boston Bruins.

Saturday already presented Red Wings fans with the unpleasant thought of Pavel Datsyuk leaving for Russia as early as the end of this season, so imagine the discomfort that would come from losing to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

That didn’t happen, even if the Buds made it uncomfortably close in an eventual 3-2 Red Wings win.

Let’s take a wider look at the race for the East’s lower playoff spots:

via NHL.com
via NHL.com

As you can see, Detroit takes the Atlantic’s third spot from Boston thanks to this decision, yet the Bruins hold a game in hand to possibly flip-flop the two.

Meanwhile, the current wild card teams are comparably comfortable when you consider games in hand in particular.

The most important factor to remember might just be how much control the Red Wings have over this situation. The Red Wings face the Flyers in Detroit on Wednesday and the Bruins in Boston on Thursday before their season-ending game against the Rangers.

To state the obvious, those matches could make a huge difference in these races, especially if they end in regulation.

It wasn’t pretty tonight, and it really hasn’t been very pretty all that often for the Red Wings lately. Despite this bumpy ride, Detroit could still reach the finish line if they stay on track.

/runs out of racing metaphors