The Boston Bruins’ grip on the Eastern Conference’s final playoff spot is hardly secure, but they still control their own destiny with nine games remaining.
That’s certainly more than the Calgary Flames can claim.
The fading Flames can ill afford another loss as they continue a three-game road trip Saturday afternoon in Boston, where the Bruins continue to have major problems in 2010.
After back-to-back wins over the New York Rangers and Atlanta to solidify their hold on eighth place, the Bruins (33-28-12) allowed both teams to sneak closer in the standings as they lost 5-3 to Tampa Bay at home Thursday night.
The Thrashers pulled within two points after an overtime loss to Toronto and the Rangers trail by three after beating New Jersey, although Boston still has a game in hand over both clubs.
“Your number one concern is your team,” coach Claude Julien said. “It doesn’t mean that you don’t look at the scoreboard after it’s all said and done, but right now our concern is we need to bounce back and we need to win the next hockey game. That next hockey game happens to be in your home building, where we’ve got to get better as well.”
Boston is 2-9-3 at home since a New Year’s Day victory over Philadelphia at Fenway Park.
“We did have 50 shots, there’s a positive in here, but they capitalized on opportunities,” defenseman Johnny Boychuk(notes) said. “We’ve got to put this past us and come back next game and get two points.”
Winning has proven more difficult without Marc Savard(notes), who has not played since sustaining a concussion at Pittsburgh on March 7. Savard also missed time earlier in the season with foot and knee problems, and the Bruins are 12-14-6 in his absence.
Boston’s power play has been ineffective lately without Savard, who has 17 of his 33 points with the man advantage. Since his injury, the Bruins are 1 for 24 (4.2 percent), and they were held without a power-play goal for an eighth straight game Thursday.
Calgary (37-28-9) could have also used some help from a power play that went 0 for 5 in a 3-2 road loss to the New York Islanders on Thursday, as the Flames failed to narrow their deficit behind eighth-place Detroit in the West.
They held a 2-1 lead entering the third period but allowed the equalizer in the first 30 seconds and the winner 11 minutes later, increasing the odds that they’ll miss the playoffs for the first time since 2003.
That will be a difficult task considering the Flames’ schedule. Seven of their final eight games are against opponents currently in playoff position, including a visit to NHL-leading Washington on Sunday and meetings with each of the top four teams in the West.
This will be Calgary’s first visit to Boston since a 3-2 loss Oct. 19, 2006. That was Miikka Kiprusoff’s(notes) only career defeat to the Bruins, against whom he is 3-1-0 with a 1.76 goals-against average.