Friday, February 27, 2009

Could Boston win the East on Saturday night?

Pardon me while I shamlessly quote myself.

On February 5, I wrote:
If the Bruins can maintain a 10-point gap entering their 2/28 game against Washington, a win in that game would effectively clinch the conference.

Turns out that the Bruins will enter Saturday night's game with a 9-point lead.

So, is it really over if Boston beats the Caps for the second straight time? Not officially, but consider the following scenarios -- each of which assumes that the Bruins win Saturday's game outright:

- The Bruins could mathematically clinch the Eastern Conference title by going 13-5-1 over their final 19 games, a winning percentage of 68% compared to 67% for the season so far.

- If Boston simply cruises through the rest of the season with a .500 record (9-9-1), Washington would need to go 16-3-0 in order to surpass the Bruins.

- If Washington continues to win 62% of their games for the rest of the season, the Bruins would only need to go 7-12 in order to stay ahead of the Caps.

Even if the Caps win, their chances of rallying for the conference title are slim -- especially if the game goes to overtime.

But Thursday's game against Anaheim, in which both Marc Savard and Milan Lucic were injured in pointless late-game fights against the frustrated Ducks, should be a clear lesson as to the importance of closing out your opponents early. Far better for the Bruins to be able to spend the month of March fine-tuning their game and giving extra time off to the guys with bumps and bruises.

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