There is just one game remaining on the NHL regular season schedule and the league schedulers picked a good one as the Boston Bruins will host the Florida Panthers today in the lone game. While many people thought the game would have significant meaning for the Panthers (Philadelphia’s victory Saturday officially eliminated Florida from the playoffs), it instead has an effect on Boston.
If the Bruins win, they will jump over the Tampa Bay Lightning as the top seed of the Eastern Conference and get home ice advantage in the first three rounds of the playoffs. A win of any kind would give them a matchup with the New Jersey Devils. A loss will pit the Bruins against the Toronto Maple Leafs, a team they have struggled with this year. The only known matchup in the Eastern Conference are the Pittsburgh Penguins vs. the Philadelphia Flyers and the Washington Capitals vs. the Columbus Blue Jackets.
“Let’s face it, we were trying to find our own game and get to where we thought we were at the start of the year, which was definitely a playoff team,” said head coach Bruce Cassidy via NBC Sports Joe Haggerty. “We just didn’t know where we would fit, and the way Tampa got out of the gate, and Toronto for that matter, it was going to be an uphill battle. But here we are. We’re in a position to take it, and that’s a credit to the guys. We’ve worked hard to get here. This wasn’t by accident. We didn’t back in.”
- The Ottawa Senators, who ended up finishing in 30th place this season, must make a decision on their coaching situation. Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Citizen writes that Guy Boucher is in a strange situation as he did everything right a year ago at this time and has done little right since. The team’s defense and special teams were atrocious this year and need to get fixed. The question is, will it be Boucher or another coach? Garrioch says that even if Boucher survives, expect changes to the staff as last year is considered unacceptable.
- Jon Vogl of the Buffalo News writes that the Buffalo Sabres need to make sweeping changes to avoid another dismal season next year, but unfortunately, the team has a lot of contracts with term which will be hard to move, so the team will need to be creative in trades. The defense has six players already under contract and few top-four players, citing that Rasmus Ristolainen is considered their No. 1 defenseman and he is no where even close to that. He will have four more years on his contract at $5.4MM AAV and has shown little improvement and isn’t the leader they hoped he would be.
- Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press writes that Detroit Red Wings’ Henrik Zetterberg must decide whether he wants to keep playing. The 38-year-old still has three years left of the 12-year contract he signed in 2009 at $6.083MM AAV, but back then it was assumed players wouldn’t play the entire contract out. He’s logged over 1,000 and if he chooses to retire, the Red Wings would save $6MM in cap space if the team is able to place him on long-term injured reserve. St. James adds, however, that the veteran might want to come back for one more year as he is just 42 points away from reaching 1,000 points.
- St. James also tweets that the Red Wings have decided not to send forward Tyler Bertuzzi to the Grand Rapids Griffins of the AHL for their playoff run. They believe Bertuzzi has done enough at the AHL level and want him to hit the gym and get stronger with a full offseason of workouts.