Bruins, Lightning play the waiting game

191545.jpg

Bruins, Lightning play the waiting game

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

WILMINGTON Its become the biggest guessing game in Boston.

When is the Eastern Conference Final between the Bruins and the Tampa Bay Lightning going to get started?

The NHL mandates that the Eastern Conference finals cant get started until the Western Conference matchup has been decided, and its going to be a bit of a squeeze looking at the schedule for the two buildings. The Bruins are moving forward with the idea that Game 1 against the Tampa Bay Lightning will commence on either Thursday or Saturday, but wont know for certain until after the San Jose-at-Detroit game Tuesday night.

Meanwhile in Tampa, Disney on Ice has the St. Pete Times Forum from May 19-22. The Lightning will have to get their two games in prior to Thursday, May 19 a crunch that could mean back-to-back games in either Boston or Tampa Bay.

Toy Story 3 taking the ice in Tampa means that Buzz Lightyear and Woody will be elbowing the NHL right out of the building, and throwing a serious Pixar twist into the playoff scheduling.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Bruins fall into second wild-card spot as Leafs win again

Bruins fall into second wild-card spot as Leafs win again

Things went about as badly as they could have for the Bruins on Wednesday night, resulting in them waking up Thursday morning as the second wild-card team . . . and just a couple of missteps from being out of the playoff structure entirely.

The Toronto Maple Leafs took down the Columbus Blue Jackets, 5-2, and the New York Islanders came back to beat the New York Rangers, 3-2, so both teams gained ground on the idle B’s. Toronto has passed the Bruins by a point for third place in the Atlantic Division with a game still in hand, and the Isles are just two points behind the Bruins while also holding a game in hand.

According to Hockey Reference’s web site the Bruins still have a 78.3 percent chance of making the playoffs, but that number dropped significantly from where it was prior to the back-to-back losses to Toronto and Ottawa earlier this week.

The Bruins remain very much in control of their destiny, but they need wins against Tampa Bay on Thursday and (especially) against the Isles in Brooklyn this weekend.

All of this is because the Bruins have hit their first bump under interim coach Bruce Cassidy, a three-game losing streak that eroded the playoff cushion they enjoyed over the teams chasing them. It's raised some blood-pressure levels locally, since the B’s have missed the playoffs in each of the last two years due to late season collapses (going 3-8-1 in their final 12 games last year, and losing 9 of their final 14 two years ago).

“You have to obviously look forward. [You] definitely don’t dwell on the past and don’t look at the past two years,” said Patrice Bergeron following the loss to Ottawa on Tuesday night. “It’s not even something we should think about at this point. It’s about us finding ways and us obviously being better and finding ways to win games. We’re playing good hockey, but not good enough to get the result.”
 
They'll attempt to get back on track tonight against the Lightning, who come to town just five points behind Boston and also badly in need of a win as they're riding their own three-game losing streak.

Krug: Bruins collapse 'is not going to happen this year'

Krug: Bruins collapse 'is not going to happen this year'

BOSTON – Having lost three games in a row for the first time under Bruce Cassidy at time of year when you can’t drop into losing streaks, Bruins fans clearly want some sense of surety when it comes to the B’s making the playoffs.

Well, they got an ironclad guarantee from Torey Krug after he was the best B’s player on the ice in a 3-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators at TD Garden. Krug has been a part of the teams that collapsed in each of the past two seasons and the puck-moving defenseman said things are going to be different this time around with nine games to go.

“I haven’t thought about it, I haven’t talked about it. It’s a different feeling this year. [A collapse] is not going to happen this year. I know we’ve got a lot of pride in this room,” said Krug, who elevated his game and scored on a nifty, Bobby Orr-esque one-man rush up the ice in the third period. He also had a team-high seven shots on net and led the B’s in ice time in the loss. “The guys that have been through it. There’s no other option except making sure we stay on course and take care and do our jobs.

“You feel like you played pretty well and things didn’t go your way. You make a big mistake and it cost you. You got to realize what’s done is done, and we have an important task on Thursday [vs. the Lightning]. We’ve got to come to the rink with no other option except winning that game. That’s the mindset we’ve got to have.”

The Black and Gold are still in a pretty good position when it comes to the playoffs, even if their lead over Toronto in the Atlantic Division is precarious right now. But it ultimately comes down to Boston summoning against Tampa Bay and the Islanders what they didn’t, or couldn’t, against Toronto and Ottawa, and making good on Krug’s defiant words following a bitter defeat.