It won’t sit well with the masses, but it appears the Boston Bruins are destined for the Stanley Cup Playoffs once again, despite a season of underachievment. The Bruins upended the Florida Panthers at TD Garden 3-2 Tuesday Night adding another two points to their wildcard lead over the Panthers and Senators. Florida now trails Boston by six points with only five games remaining. While not mathematically eliminated, realistically the Panthers are toast.
Florida actually claimed a 2-1 lead and rode it into the third period. Had they been able to hold on, the Wild Card race would have been far more intriguing when we woke up this morning. David Pastrnak evened the score at two apiece midway through the final frame before Milan Lucic netted the game winner with 1:09 remaining in regulation. Talk about a kick in the teeth loss for the Panthers.
In the unlikely event that the Panthers could even win out, the Bruins would have to lose at least three games in regulation. This of course ignores the possibility of overtime losses; it also does not factor in the Ottawa Senators, currently three points ahead of Florida and three behind Boston, who would also have to take a complete nosedive the rest of the way. As it stands, Ottawa is the only team with a plausible chance of catching Boston.
Rumors have surfaced that the Panthers may be discussing an extension with Jaromir Jagr and that clearly adds to the intrigue heading into next season. Jagr, who turned 43 in February, he has contributed 41 points (15 goals) in between time with the Devils and Panthers. At this point, it would surprise no one if Jagr played until he was 50. It’s not a terrible idea for the Panthers to lock up Jagr for another season. As I eluded to last week, if nothing else, he’s providing some valuable mentoring for the abundance of youth the Panthers have stockpiled. The season has all but slipped away in South Florida, but you haven’t heard the last of the Panthers.