BostonBruins.com - As the 2013 regular season comes to a close, the heated playoff race still ensues in the Eastern Conference.
The Bruins, locked into their sixth straight postseason, are still working to maintain the No. 2 seed in the East and the top of the Northeast Division, something they'll refocus their efforts on as they look to bounce back from a mistake-prone loss to Philly on Tuesday.
The Penguins have clinched the the Atlantic Division and bragging rights in the Eastern Conference, while the Washington Capitals cliched the Southeast on Tuesday night with a 5-3 win over the Winnipeg Jets, who are currently on the outside looking in, one point out of eighth, behind the New York Rangers.
The Islanders, 8-0-3 in their last 11 games, closed in on their first playoff berth since 2007 Tuesday night after earning one point in a 4-3 shootout loss to Carolina. With Toronto having clinched their first trip to the postseason dance since 2004, that leaves Ottawa (52 points), NY Rangers (52) and Winnipeg (51) in a battle for seventh and eighth.
The Sens have the clear advantage with three games left, including the Sunday match-up in Boston with the B's - the rescheduled game is the only one on the NHL slate that day, the last of the league's 48-game season. Meanwhile, the Rangers are staring at two games against Carolina and New Jersey. They failed to clinch on Tuesday night with a 3-2 loss the Panthers and sit only two points away from another chance at the Cup after finding their way to the Conference Finals in 2011-12.
Winnipeg's hopes are faltering, with only one game left against Montreal on Thursday that is a must-win before they have to sit and watch the rest of the Conference unfold.
The only game on the Eastern Conference slate Wednesday night is between Tampa Bay and Toronto. With the Lightning far out of the playoff picture, the Leafs still have much to play for, only four points back of Boston and Montreal with three games left, though they've lost two of their past three. If the Canadiens continue their trend, having lost five of six games, the final match-up for both teams on April 27 could very well determine first, second or third in the Northeast, depending on the Bruins' final stretch.
With Pittsburgh locked in at No. 1 and Washington at No. 3, here's a look at the six opponents the B's could potentially end up facing in the first round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs - starting with the Northeast Division - and how the Black & Gold have fared against them this season.
Bruins vs. Ottawa Senators
Match-Up: The Bruins and Senators have never met in the postseason, but the Northeast opponents know each other well, especially in this shortened season, when the Sens were one of two teams the B's will face five times. The two teams have already played four games against each other, with all four going to Boston, though every decision was separated by just one goal. In the season's first matchup on February 28 in Boston, the Bruins earned a 2-1 overtime victory, before taking home a 3-2 shootout victory from Ottawa on March 11 and a 2-1 win on March 21. The Bruins last won 3-2 on April 2 in Boston and will face the Sens in both teams' last game on this coming Sunday, April 28. Boston outscored the Senators 9-6 on the season, and outshot them, 160-138.
Leading Performers: David Krejci (1-2=3), Zdeno Chara 0-3=3), and Milan Lucic (0-3=3) have been the leading scorers against the Sens this season through four games. Kaspars Daugavins (1-1=2), now a member of the Bruins, Sergei Gonchar (2-0=2), Chris Phillips (0-2=2), Zack Smith (0-2=2), and Mike Zibanejad (0-2=2) all notched two points against Boston this season.
Goalie Duel: Between the pipes, Tuukka Rask played in two games for Boston, going 2-0-0 with a 1.40 GAA and .952 save percentage, allowing three goals on 63 shots in the two games, while Anton Khudobin recorded two wins, with a 1.50 GAA and .960 save percentage, allowing three goals on 75 shots. Robin Lehner played all four games against Boston for Ottawa, going 0-2-2, with a 2.18 GAA and .944 save percentage. He allowed nine goals on 160 shots.
Special Teams: The Bruins were 0-for-11 on the power play against the Sens this season, while Ottawa was 1-for-10 (10.0%) on the man-advantage. Thus, the Bruins were 9-for-10 (90.0%) on the PK and Ottawa was 11-for-11 on the PK.
Bruins vs. Toronto Maple Leafs
Match-Up: The Bruins and Maple Leafs faced off four times this season, with the B's taking three out of the four games. The Bruins came away with a 1-0 shutout victory in the first match-up of the season in Toronto on February 2, before following that up with a 4-2 win in Boston on March 7, the start of a breakout stretch for Tyler Seguin, who notched three points (2-1) against the Leafs, after struggling early in the season with the adjustment from overseas' ice to the NHL. The Leafs took the opener of a home-and-home in Toronto on March 23, 3-2, before the Bruins battled to win the second game in Boston by the same score.
Leading Performers: Patrice Bergeron (2-2=4) and Brad Marchand (0-4=4) were the leading scorers against the Leafs this season, both tallying four points in four games, while Nazem Kadri (2-1=3) and Mikhail Grabovski (1-2=3) tallied three points each against the Bruins.
Goalie Duel: Rask went 2-0-0 against Toronto, appearing in three games, with a 0.85 GAA and .958 save percentage and allowing two goals on 48 shots. Khudobin went 1-1-0, with a 2.95 GAA and .868 save percentage, giving up five goals on 38 shots. James Reimer played in three games, going 1-1-1 (1.63 GAA, .948 SV%), allowing five goals on 96 shots, while Ben Scrivens was 0-1-1 with a 3.06 GAA and .875 save percentage, giving up three goals on 24 shots.
Special Teams: The Bruins were 0-for-7 on the power play against the Leafs this season, while Toronto scored on one of 11 tries. Thus, making Toronto perfect on the PK against the B's and Boston at 90.9%, allowing the one goal.
Playoff History: The Maple Leafs and Bruins have met 13 times in the postseason, with the first time coming in the 1933 semifinals and the latest in the 1974 quarterfinals. The Bruins have won eight of the all-time series, but overall, the Maple Leafs lead the series 31-30-1.
Stat of the Match-Up: Jaromir Jagr is the only current Bruin who was born when these two teams last met in the postseason on April 14, 1974.
Bruins vs. Montreal Canadiens
Match-Up: The Canadiens and Bruins have met an NHL record 33 times in the postseason, so it would be nothing new to see the two teams battle in the first round, after battling for much of the regular season. That's more playoff series than 11 teams in league have ever played. The first series against the Habs came in the 1929 semifinals, and the latest came in the 2011 Eastern Conference quarterfinals, en route to the B's Stanley Cup.
Fast forward to 2013, and the Bruins and Canadiens have faced off four times this season, with the Habs taking three out of the four games. In the season's first matchup in Montreal on February 6, the B's skated to a 2-1 victory, backed by Tuukka Rask. The Canadiens took home a 4-3 victory in Boston on March 3, before coming from behind to net a 6-5 shootout win on March 27, and then edging the Bruins back in Montreal on April 6, 2-1. The Canadiens outscored the Bruins 13-11 on the season, while the B's outshot the Habs, 125-104.
Leading Performers: Patrice Bergeron (3-4=7 in 3GP) and Tyler Seguin (3-4=7 in 4GP) were the B's leading scorers against Montreal this season, while P.K. Subban (2-4=6) and Tomas Plekanec (1-5=6) led the Canadiens.
Goalie Duel: Rask played in all four games for Boston, going 1-2-1 with a 2.96 GAA and .885 save percentage, allowing 12 goals on 104 shots in the four games. Carey Price appeared in three games, going 1-1-0, with a 2.64 GAA and .908 save percentage, allowing seven goals on 76 shots, while Peter Budaj went 2-0-0 with a 2.87 GAA and .918 save percentage, letting the B's pot four goals on 49 shots.
Special Teams: The Bruins had 11 power-play opportunities against the Habs, and were only able to muster up one goal, while Montreal scored four on 17 power plays. Thus, the Bruins were 13-for-17 (76.5%) on the PK, and Montreal was 10-for-11 (90.9%).
Boston vs. New York Islanders
Match-Up: The Bruins and Islanders faced off three times this regular season, with the B’s taking two out of the three games. In the season’s first match-up on January 25 in Boston, the B’s came away with the 4-2 victory, before earning a 4-1 win in New York on February 26. In the final meeting between the two teams on April 11, the Islanders took down the Bruins, 2-1. Throughout the series, the B's outscored the Isles 9-5, with New York outshooting the B’s 99-92.
Leading Performers: Gregory Campbell (2-1=3 in 3GP), Tyler Seguin (1-2=3 in 3GP), and Patrice Bergeron (1-2=3 in 2GP) were the B’s leading scorers against the Islanders this season, while Josh Bailey recorded three points (2-1=3) in two games against Boston.
Goalie Duel: Rask played all three games, going 2-1-0 with a 1.68 GAA and .949 save percentage, letting in five goals on 99 shots, while Evgeni Nabokov went 1-1-0 for NYI with a 2.03 GAA and a .938 save percentage, allowing four goals on 64 shots. Rick DiPietro played the other game, taking the loss and allowing four goals on 27 shots.
Special Teams: The Bruins were 1-for-8 (12.5%) on the power play against the Isles this season, while New York was 0-for-7 on the man-advantage, thus, making the B's a perfect 7-for-7 on the PK.
Playoff History: The Islanders and Bruins have met just twice before in the postseason, in the 1980 quarterfinals and in the 1983 Prince of Wales Conference Championship. The Islanders won both series (4-1 in 1980 and 4-2 in 1983), giving them an 8-3 record all-time against the B’s in the postseason.
Stat of the Match-Up: In both seasons that the Islanders played the Bruins in the playoffs, they went on to win the Stanley Cup.
Boston vs. New York Rangers
Match-Up: The Bruins and Rangers faced off three times this regular season, with the Rangers taking two out of the three games. In the season’s first matchup, also opening night, January 19 in Boston, the B’s came away with a 3-1 victory. The Rangers went on to win the final two games of the season series, taking home a 4-3 victory in New York on January 23 and, in the final meeting between the two teams on February 12, the Rangers beat the Bruins, 4-3. The teams each scored nine goals, while the Bruins outshot the Rangers 103-83.
Leading Performers: Milan Lucic (2-2=4) was the B’s leading scorer against the Rangers this season and also had a team-high 14 penalty minutes in the three games. Marian Gaborik (3-0=3) and Rick Nash (0-3=3) led the way for New York.
Goalie Duel: Rask played all three games for Boston, going 1-0-2 with a 2.62 GAA and .904 save percentage and allowed eight goals on 83 shots, while Henrik Lundqvist also suited up for all three match-ups, earning a 2-1-0 record with a 2.93 GAA and .913 save percentage; he gave up nine goals on 103 shots.
Special Teams: The Bruins were 1-for-16 (6.2%) on the power play against the Rangers this season, while New York was 0-14 on the man-advantage, making the B's a perfect 14-for-14 on the penalty kill.
Playoff History: The Rangers and Bruins have met nine times in the postseason, starting with the 1927 semifinals, with the latest meeting coming in the 1973 quarterfinals. The two teams have met in the Stanley Cup Finals twice, in 1929 and 1972, with the Bruins winning both of the series (2-0 in 1929 and 4-2 in 1972). Overall, the Bruins have won six of the all-time postseason series and are 22-18-2 in 42 postseason games against New York. Of the six Stanley Cup championships the Bruins have won, four of them have come in postseasons in which they defeated the Rangers (1929 final, 1939 semifinal, 1970 quarterfinal, and 1972 final).
Jagr Salute: Similarly to Toronto, Jaromir Jagr is the only player on the current Boston roster that was born when the two teams last played in the postseason, on April 10, 1973.
Boston vs. Winnipeg Jets
Match-Up: The Bruins and Jets, formerly the Atlanta Thrashers, have never met in the postseason. Boston took two out of the three games this season against Winnipeg, starting with the season's first game on January 21 in Boston, a 2-1 win. The B's then earned a 3-2 victory in Winnipeg on February 17, the first time ever getting a win at the MTS Centre. In the final meeting between the two teams on March 19, the Jets took down the Bruins, 3-1. In a hard-fought series, the Bruins and Jets each scored six goals, with the B's outshooting the Jets, 81-76.
Leading Performers: Brad Marchand (3-0=3) was the B’s leading scorer, while Evander Kane (2-0=2), Blake Wheeler (2-0=2), Alexander Burmistrov (1-1=2) and Zach Bogosian (0-2=2) were the leading scorers against Boston this season, all with two points.
Goalie Duel: Rask went 2-1-0 with a 1.63 GAA and .933 save percentage, letting in five goals on 75 shots, while Ondrej Pavelec played in all three games for Winnipeg, allowing five goals on 81 shots and going 1-1-1 with a 1.63 GAA and .938 save percentage.
Special Teams: The Bruins were 1-for-7 (14.3%) on the power play against the Jets this season, while Winnipeg was 1-for-8 (12.5%) on the man-advantage. Thus, Boston was 7-for-8 (87.5%) on the PK, and Winnipeg was 6-for-7 on the PK (85.7%).
---Eric Russo contributed to this report