Will an untimely, late-season collapse prevent the Boston Bruins from making the playoffs? Their fate could be decided Thursday night (7 PM ET, NBCSN) when they host the Detroit Red Wings in a pivotal Atlantic Division clash. The Red Wings have won six of their last nine games to seize third place from Boston, who went 2-7 during the same span. This will be Game No. 81 of the regular season for both clubs.
The Bruins (41-30-8) have performed better overall than the Wings (40-28-11) this year, posting a plus-13 goal differential to Detroit’s minus-11. However, Boston netminder Tuukka Rask (.915 save percentage) has been inconsistent this year, and the defense in front of him has been thinned out by lower-body injuries to Kevan Miller and Dennis Seidenberg. Both are listed as day-to-day.
Detroit (40-28-11) is making this late playoff push with Jimmy Howard (.906 SV%) taking over the No. 1 goalie spot and Petr Mrazek (.920 SV%) settling for back-up duties. This will be the second of back-to-back contests for the Wings; at press time, Howard is projected to start both games, but that could certainly change as we get closer to the opening face-off.