Despite a pretty disheartening start to Phase 4 play, the Bruins will enter the weekend with a chance to dig themselves out of the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Thanks to the Flyers’ impressive 3-1 victory over the Capitals on Thursday night, the Bruins have an opportunity to leapfrog Washington and secure the No. 3 seed going into the next round of play — so long as they defeat the Capitals on Sunday in their round-robin finale.
Through two games of round-robin action, here’s where the four top seeds in the East all standing as far as points go:
Tampa Bay Lightning - 4 points
Philadelphia Flyers - 4 points
Washington Capitals - 1 point
Boston Bruins - 0 points
Obviously, a regulation victory on Sunday would give Boston the outright 2-1 edge over the Caps in the standings, but even if Washington collects a point through an overtime/shootout loss, the Bruins would hold the tie-breaker in a 2-2 scenario — considering that Boston held the edge over Washington in terms of regular-season points.
The Lightning and Flyers will also battle for the No. 1 seed on Saturday, with the winner of that matchup officially usurping the Bruins — the reigning Presidents’ Trophy winners — as the top dog up in Toronto.
Considering the production put forth by Boston so far up in Scotiabank Arena, Bruce Cassidy’s club is lucky to be in a spot in which they could jump ahead of the Capitals — considering the B’s have yet to hold a lead for one second of their 180 minutes of game action so far in Phase 4.
Even if Wednesday’s loss to the Lightning was a step in the right direction for a slumping B’s team, they still have a lengthy checklist of items to sort through on Sunday’s game — headlined by Ondrej Kase’s expected return to the top-six forward corps and the dilemma that comes with finding which pieces best fit on both David Krejci and Charlie Coyle’s lines.
While Cassidy and his club will likely be focused on building their own game and solving the ongoing middle-six puzzle with their pool of wingers, getting the chance to knock the Capitals out of the No. 3 seed should serve as added motivated for the Bruins — who traded some heavy hits with the Metropolitan Division powerhouse during their last meeting way back on Dec. 23, 2019.
Granted, even if the Bruins’ comments following Wednesday's loss seemed to signal that many of the perks that come with higher seeding have been negated in this neutral-site format, Boston could