Boston Bruins vs. New York Rangers
12:30 p.m. EST – Sunday, March 21, 2010
Live on NBC
The most important thing to remember here is: the Eastern Conference isn’t very good, particularly after you pass the handful of elites at the top. Just look at it this way; the 11th and 12th ranked West teams would be tied with Boston for a playoff spot right now. So, in other words, gaining a spot doesn’t require a team to achieve some lofty status.
Let me run down a few reasons why the Bruins will make the playoffs.
1. They have the lead
That might seem overly simplistic, but with only 11-12 games left for each team, a 3 point lead might be just enough of a cushion for the mediocre Bruins to hold off the mediocre Rangers and Thrashers. Especially when considering the other factors.
2. They have a better schedule
For one thing, Boston can really seal this up in the next few days: they play the Rangers on Sunday and then in Atlanta on Tuesday. But looking deeper, the Bruins simply have an easier finish than their two competitors.
You might as well cross Atlanta off the list right after you glance at this brutal five-game stretch to end their season: @Washington, @Pittsburgh, home against New Jersey, @Washington and home against Pittsburgh. Good luck with that, Atlanta.
The Rangers have it a bit easier opponents-wise, but they play eight of their last 11 games on the road. This includes a six game road trip. The Bruins have it much easier: they play seven out of their remaining 12 games at home and see no more than two games in a row on the road.
3. They are resilient
With all the harsh criticism this team has faced, few have given them much credit for fighting through bumps in the road. They might not earn many style points with the way they play right now, but they’ve been hanging tough all season long. Personally, I think they have what it takes to hold off Atlanta and New York.
So, that’s why the Bruins will make it to the playoffs. Stay tuned for takes on why Atlanta and New York will make it instead.