The Eastern Conference playoff race is heating up between three teams, things are getting interested as the Ottawa Senators, Boston Bruins and Florida Panthers are all fighting for the last wild card spot in the East.
Hammond on a Roll
The Ottawa Senators have been on a roll as of late and are the hottest team in the NHL. A major part of this success has to be the rise of the Sens goaltender, Andrew "The Hamburgler" Hammond.
His outstanding play has not gone unnoticed as fans from Ottawa would throw hamburgers on the ice to show their appreciation for the net minder. Hammond suffered his first loss Thursday night to the Rangers and it was a blow out. Hammond was pulled from the net during the game as the Senators lost 5-1 to the Stanley Cup contending New York Rangers.
The question is now asked if this was the beginning of the end for the great run that Hammond and the Senators are having and if they have enough gas left in the tank to secure themselves in the playoffs.
The Florida Panthers are the furthest away of the three teams from the wild card spot but with a win on Thursday night against the Maple Leafs they are closing the gap.
The Panthers traded for Jaromir Jagr before trade deadline day in hopes of making a playoff push with some scoring experience on their side. Also with a playoff experienced goaltender in, Roberto Luongo and all of their young talented players, Florida has all the tools to be a playoff caliber team.
The Shining star for the Panthers has been Brandon Pirri. Pirri scored two goals against the Leafs including an empty netter for his 20th of the season. He has 20 goals in 41 games, the issue is just two assists, he scores a goal almost 25% of the time that he shoots the puck, which is unbelievable. The Panthers are looking strong and with games coming up against Ottawa and Boston they look to put themselves in a playoff position.
The Boston Bruins. The 2012 Stanley Cup champions. Many ask why they are on this list, or why they are in the position to possibly not make the playoffs. Some things you just can't explain. The Bruins lost a couple of familiar faces in the offseason that were crucial to the success of the team. To make things worse, young defenseman Dougie Hamilton got injured recently, which won't help matters.
The Bruins have had issues scoring this season, it's tough to win when you can't score, however, there may be a light at the end of the tunnel as David Krejci is finally back from his injury and may be able to light the lamp a few times for the Bruins on the road to the playoffs. After a crucial loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday night, the Bruins need to come together and find motivation to win.
The Bruins have been steadily in the final wild card spot with their style of play, but they will need to step up their game as Ottawa is tied with them in points and Florida is just three behind. The Bruins need to find the spark that the Senators and Panthers have been playing with.
Prediction: Boston Bruins
A dangerous pick, yet a thought out one. The Senators may be tied with the Bruins in points and are on more of a roll, but that roll will likely end after the performance they had against the Rangers. The Florida Panthers, although always close to the Bruins in the standings have never passed them. The Bruins have been the steady team of the three this season and whether that is a good or a bad thing, it will likely see them earn their last playoff spot.
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