The push to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs is in high gear with less than a week left in the regular season. The stakes have been raised and the games are of greater magnitude.
Here are the CFP Keys to Success for teams either holding on to precious playoff positions or trying to improve its place in the standings:
WINGS AND A PRAYER
Winning at home for the Boston Bruins is not just a key to their success, it's almost vital to their survival.
The Bruins are 2-7-1 in their past 10 games, have fallen out of a Stanley Cup Playoff position and need to find their game if they are going to earn a spot in the postseason.
The Bruins, with 91 points, host the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVA Sports, FS-D, NESNplus), needing a win to prevent Detroit from clinching a playoff berth and third place in the Atlantic Division. With a loss Thursday, the only way Boston could qualify for the playoffs would be as the second wild card from the Eastern Conference.
The Bruins have 15 goals in their past eight games at TD Garden, and have one goal in each of their past two home games. They haven't scored four or more goals in a home game since March 3 and are 16-17-6 at home this season.
Brad Marchand, who leads the Bruins with 36 goals, has scored twice in Boston's past 12 games. He was left on the bench during the Bruins' five-round shootout loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday. Patrice Bergeron, who leads the Bruins in points with 67, has four goals and an assist in his past five games. A key to the Bruins' success is Marchand finding his scoring touch and Bergeron continuing to contribute offensively in Boston's final two games. Another key is goaltender Tuukka Rask. He's 3-4-1 in his past 10 games, but made 27 saves in the shootout loss Tuesday.
For Detroit, goaltender Jimmy Howard is getting hot at the right time. He made 30 saves Wednesday - 24 combined in the second and third periods - to win his third straight game and earn his 22nd career shutout. Howard is 6-3-0 in his past 10 starts, allowing 22 goals.
KINGS OF THE HILL
First place in the Pacific Division will be on the line when the Los Angeles Kings host the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday (10:30 p.m. ET; FS-SD, PRIME, FS-W, NHL.TV). The Kings and Ducks are even in points with 99, but the Ducks have a game in hand.
Since clinching a playoff berth on March 19, the Kings are 3-6-0, and in those six losses they were held to two or fewer goals. Los Angeles ended a two-game losing streak with a 5-4 overtime win against the Calgary Flames on Tuesday. Jeff Carter, who scored the game-winner, has four goals and two assists in his past five games. Milan Lucic scored his first two goals in 12 games Tuesday. A key to the Kings passing the Ducks is getting back to the high level of play they demonstrated in their 11-2-1 run that led to them clinching a playoff berth.
Anaheim, which was defeated 2-1 in overtime by the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday, is 6-2-2 in its past 10 games, a stretch where Ryan Kesler has six goals and seven assists. The Ducks, 19-14-5 on the road this season, play their final three games away from Honda Center: at Los Angeles Thursday, at the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday and at the Washington Capitals on Sunday.