By Tim Rosenthal, Bruins Daily
Entering their final game of the 2014-15 regular season, the Boston Bruins are going to need some help to get into the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They find themselves in this difficult position after a 4-2 loss to the Florida Panthers in Sunrise, Fla., on Thursday.
Facing a Panthers team that knew it wouldn't be reaching the playoffs, the B's couldn't finish their chances against Roberto Luongo. They couldn't build off an emotional boost from Adam McQuaid hammering Jonathan Huberdeau and dropping the gloves with Alex Petrovic. They couldn't ride behind Patrice Bergeron after he gave his team a 1-0 lead on a power-play goal in the second period.Instead, defensive breakdowns haunted the Black and Gold in a loss against the Panthers.
The defeat, coupled with the Ottawa Senators win over a New York Rangers team that clinched the Presidents' Trophy Tuesday night, leaves the Bruins' playoff fate out of their hand entering Saturday's regular season finale with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
"We've been a group, a proud group, that's always wanted to do things on our own," Boston's Chris Kelly told the press following the loss in South Florida. "And now we're looking for help."
There was a bit of hope that Brad Marchand would provide a much-needed spark for the Black and Gold when he cut the Panthers lead to 3-2 in the third period, snapping his 15-game goal drought. That quickly evaporated when Dennis Seidenberg committed a turnover in his own end and Dorchester's own Jimmy Hayes pounced on the loose puck to make it 4-2 for the Panthers at 15:14 of the third.
A too many men call late in the third where Marchand jumped the boards while the Bruins were trying to get Tuukka Rask to the bench for the extra attacker provided a comedic ending to Game No. 81 of the season.
"We didn't have our skating legs in the third period," Rask told reporters after making 26 saves. "And when you start making mistakes, it kind of snowballs from there."
The Bruins could be eliminated by the time they play Saturday night. The Penguins would clinch a playoff berth Friday night with a win over the Islanders, who stamped their ticket to the postseason on Thursday. If the Pens win on Friday, all the Sens would need is one point in Philadelphia on Saturday afternoon to wrap up their playoff berth before the B's step foot on the ice against the Lightning later that evening.
The Bruins are a step closer to missing the playoff for the first time since the 2006-07 season. They may be closer to seeing some changes across the board and an off-season full of uncertainty.