OK, maybe it's not so impressive to point out a team was in danger of falling out of the playoff picture less than 24 hours before it actually did. But Boston's predicament is certainly very real now.
The Bruins find themselves the collateral damage of a ferocious playoff race dogfight between the Detroit Red Wings and Philadelphia Flyers for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Detroit initially answered Philly's charge up the standings with fits and sputters, but Saturday proved neither is slowing down anytime soon. And the Bruins pay for it.
The Flyers set the tone early in the afternoon, riding an efficient power play to a third straight win. It was a simple case of a hungry team taking advantage of a weaker team's worst weakness. Philadelphia's top power play dominated the Ottawa Senators' 29th-ranked penalty kill, scoring all three goals in the win.
That put the onus on the Red Wings, who had to face down the suddenly youthful (and good?) Toronto Maple Leafs on the road and win in order to keep pace. But the Leafs have boosted offensively, and this Red Wings group is much better defensively than they have been all season. They held off Toronto's comeback attempt in the third for their second straight win and 91st point.
Which just so happens to be one more than the Bruins, who slip out of the top-three Atlantic Division comfort zone and outside the playoff picture entirely. The Flyers have the toughest remaining schedule of the three, and Boston can make up ground if the Red Wings somehow drop back-to-back games against Philly and the Bruins.
But doesn't it feel like that's not the trend we've been watching for the last two weeks?
Flyers 3, Senators 2
Red Wings 3, Maple Leafs 2
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3 things we learned
1. The Stars
Every so often this season, the Dallas Stars would go through a stretch of four or five games that made you doubt their legitimacy as one of the top three teams in the NHL. Each time they righted the ship and quelled those doubts, but not enough to keep you from wondering.
I think we can all put those doubts to bed officially now. The Stars had a difficult home stretch with games against Tampa Bay, the Islanders, Chicago, San Jose, Nashville and Los Angeles. And they beat them 29-12 without Tyler Seguin or Kris Russell, two key cogs in the machine. They're legit, and they're a formidable playoff foe. Just consider what they did to the Kings on Saturday.
The Stars are scary for the playoffs because one of the best shot suppression teams in the league just gave up 39 SOG— Carolyn Wilke (@Classlicity) April 2, 2016
2. Shea Weber's slap shot is raw, beautiful power
Maybe we all already knew this. But until his first period goal we didn't know it, you know?
3. Wells Fargo Center needs to fix their escalators
Many Flyers fans were sent falling down a Wells Fargo Center escalator on Saturday when the escalator suddenly got stuck on max speed. It was terrifying and totally vindicates your fear of escalators. How you now balance that with your fear of heights (and thus, stairs) is up to you.
Tampa Bay got rocked with the news that Steven Stamkos will miss 1-3 months after surgery on a blood clot near his collarbone on Monday. Considering the recent Pascal Dupuis retirement due to blood clots, this is worrisome news for Stamkos. And it creates a question for Tampa Bay: is it time to bring Jonathan Drouin back up?
After all ...
Stat of the Night
SYR GOAL: Drouin scores yet another PP goal. That's 9 goals in last 9 games and goals in 5 straight.— Bolt Prospects (@BoltProspects) April 3, 2016