NHL Playoff Race: Senators must beat Bruins in regulation

Ottawa has to pitch in to keep the third Atlantic slot within reach.

With the Lightning clawing their way back into the playoff picture since the trade deadline, and with the end of the season within sight, it’s time to start scoreboard watching.

For the Lightning to make it to the wild-card spot, or possibly even third in the Atlantic division, they’ll need some help along the way. We’ll continue this either until the Lightning secure a playoff spot... or are eliminated.

For every game we review, we’ll determine a Best Case, OK Case, and Worst Case scenario for each game. For each review, we’ll determine which actually happened for the Lightning. With thanks to @ElSeldo of Pension Plan Puppets for the inspiration.

Last Night’s Games

Last night stank for our hopes to overtake the last wild card slot. Not only are the LA Kings even less likely to catch up to the St. Louis Blues (81 points) with their loss to the Oilers (we want that conditional second-round pick!), the Toronto Maple Leafs put distance between themselves and the next-highest contender for the wild card spot (which is sadly the Islanders) with their victory over the Bruins.

The Boston Bruins are hanging out at 82 points and still in third place in Atlantic, but both Toronto and the Islanders have a game-in-hand on them, and unless the Bruins keep winning, Toronto will overtake them. On the other hand, a Bruins loss is tonight's best-case scenario.

  • Boston Bruins 2 @ Toronto Maple Leafs 4 - Worst Case
  • Los Angeles Kings 0 @ Edmonton Oilers 2 - Worst Case/

Tonight’s Games that Matter

Two games count tonight and one only sort of matters. Tomorrow is the important night, with both the Islanders and Leafs spending their games-in-hand.

Ottawa Senators @ Boston Bruins

Best Case: Senators win in regulation

OK Case: Senators win in overtime or shootout

Worst Case: Bruins win in any fashion

The Ottawa Senators are unreachable at 86 points. Therefore, if they beat the Bruins, the Bruins will remain within a few wins of Tampa at 82 points. The Bruins are on the second half of a back-to-back, and had a regulation loss last night (you had one job, Bruins), so hopefully they continue to lose.

Philadelphia Flyers @ Winnipeg Jets

Best Case: Jets win in any fashion

OK Case: Jets win in overtime or regulation

Worst Case: Flyers win in regulation

This game between two non-contenders only sort of matters. The Flyers are three points in back of Tampa at 74, and are falling ever lower, but it would be good to see Winnipeg put another nail in their coffin.

Arizona Coyotes @ Tampa Bay Lightning

Best Case: Tampa wins in any fashion

OK Case: I’d say “Tampa loses in overtime,” but honestly this is NOT okay. There is no excuse.

Worst Case: Coyotes win in any fashion