Updated playoff scenarios, standings, first-round matchups for Bruins


There's one week left in the NHL regular season and the Boston Bruins could mathematically finish in four different spots in the Eastern Conference standings.

The most realistic spots are third place in the Atlantic Division, and the first and second wild card berths. Boston still hasn't mathematically been eliminated from second place in the division, but the odds of the B's climbing that high are incredibly slim.

Here's an overview of where the Bruins sit in the playoff race entering Friday's games.

Eastern Conference Standings

Atlantic Division

1Florida Panthers56-15-611853
2Toronto Maple Leafs51-21-610849
3Tampa Bay Lightning47-22-810245
4Boston Bruins47-25-59945

The Panthers clinched the Atlantic Division title and the top seed in the Eastern Conference with their win over the Red Wings combined with the Lightning beating the Leafs on Thursday night.

Ranking Bruins' potential first-round opponents in 2022 playoffs

The Bruins could still finish third in the division, but it's an uphill climb. They have a slightly tougher schedule than the Lightning through the end of the regular season, plus some of Boston's best players -- right winger David Pastrnak and defenseman Hampus Lindholm -- are still out of the lineup because of injuries.

For the Bruins to finish second in the Atlantic, they would need to win all five of their remaining games, combined with the Leafs losing all of their final four matchups in regulation. There's also a scenario where the Bruins and Leafs finish tied with 109 points and Boston gets second place with a 50-49 ROW tiebreaker advantage. All of these second-place scenarios are very, very unlikely to unfold.

Wild Card

WC1Boston Bruins47-25-59945
WC2Washington Capitals43-23-119738

The Bruins are in a real fight for the first wild card spot. The Capitals are very much in the mix. It's also possible the Penguins could fall into this group. Pittsburgh has just a 2-point lead on Washington in the Metropolitan Division standings. It should be noted Boston has the regulation and overtime wins (ROW) tiebreaker over both the Penguins and Capitals.

If the Bruins are going to be a wild card team, they'll want to be in the WC1 spot.

That team is almost certainly going to be the opponent of the Metro winner in Round 1. The Hurricanes appeared to have the Metro title on lock, but a lackluster 9-8-3 record since March 13 has opened the door for the New York Rangers. The Rangers have caught the Hurricanes in the standings with 108 points, but Carolina has the advantage in the ROW tiebreaker.

Either one of those teams would be a more favorable first-round matchup for the Bruins than the Florida Panthers, who have won 12 consecutive games.

Projected Finish

The Bruins are still most likely to finish as the first wild card team. The Athletic's predictive model has the B's tallying 107 points at the end of the regular season -- three ahead of the Penguins in the wild card standings. This model also projects Boston to finish one point behind Tampa Bay for third place in the Atlantic.

The predicted Round 1 opponent for the Bruins in this model is the Hurricanes. Carolina swept its season series versus Boston 3-0-0 by a combined score of 16-1.

One thing we can confidently state is the Bruins won't have home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. The B's would need to finish second in the Atlantic Division and, as we noted above, there's almost no chance of that happening.

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