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Now That the Pats Took Care Of Business Lets Turn Our Eyes To #10 This Century

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Two key cogs.

The end of NFL season means two things: women get their men back on Sundays and the Bruins become the primary focus of the sporting (and media) eye in our fair city. Boston has always been a hockey city but the glare definitely gets intensified when a) the Celtics aren’t close and, b) the Bruins are. And make no mistake, the team we saw go blow-for-blow with the heavyweight champion LA Kings at the Garden last Saturday night and escape the victor is one capable of providing us with yet another Duck Boat-cueing.

After early season stumbles that were fueled by the loss of their #1 D-man and best playmaking center, the Bruins have righted the ship since the calendar flipped to 2015. The squad finally had all of their horses back and, with better team cohesion in front of him, Tuukka Rask returned to the level that made him a Vezina winner last year. The Bs will likely end up a Wild Card team (7th or 8th seed) and that’s fine with me. To catch the Habs for 3rd in the Atlantic they’d need to make up six points, which isn’t a ton over 30+ games but it can be when you’re chasing quality playoff teams that are also winning. Besides, given the parity and playoff format, the Black and Gold could conceivably get a better draw as the 7th or 8th seed than 3rd.

Conversely, the Bruins are just five points ahead of 9th place Florida, who isn’t going to roll over and die, so they don’t exactly have much room for error themselves. But based on what we’ve seen in the last month, the Bs may just go on a run and give Tampa Bay a run for the division (10 points back but with two games in hand). After just one game in a week, the team will jump right back in with both feet as they begin an 11-games-in-22-days stretch tomorrow night at home vs. the Metropolitan Division-leading, Barstool-Tweetin’, Rangers-beating New York Islanders and then host their rivals from Montreal on Sunday night in a rare quirk of the schedule (home games on Sat. then Sun.).

Of the 11 games, seven will be against a team currently in the playoffs (Seguinistas take note: the Dallas Stars, here Tuesday, are five points out of the last spot out West). After they play the Habs Sunday, they’ll face the Campbell side of the family in nine out of ten games so any three-point games won’t be a detriment like they can be in vs. East. They play in Edmonton on Wednesday the 18th at 10:00PM and then won’t have a game later than 8:00PM for the rest of the year (excluding playoffs).

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The Bs have an opportunity to give themselves some breathing room and potential crack at some home ice (exxxxxcellent…) just by sticking with what they’re doing. Yeah, they were rusty on Manhattan Wednesday night but that was an aberration from the rest of their 2015. This team knows what it takes to win and has done a 180 since autumn. In order to move up in the standings, they’ll likely need help (i.e. a slump) from somebody above them but staying a Top-8 seed is the priority. Above all, they only need to worry about themselves.

They’ll play 31 games over 64 days to determine who and where they play and also to refine their game and work on the parts that need fixin’ (and, goddammit, stay fucking healthy please). It all starts tomorrow night when KFC’s boys come to town. And for those struggling with NFL withdrawals on Sunday, you can’t do much better than Bruins/Canadiens to scratch your non-pigskin sports adventure itch.

 

rearb