Monday, March 9, 2020

Weekend rankings: Who’s up for 7 more games of Bruins versus Lightning?

I know that we should live in the moment and appreciate the time we have right now, but would anyone object if we just skipped straight ahead to Round 2 in the Atlantic?

(Scans audience.)

Cool, no objections. Bruins and Lightning, get back out there. Best of seven, let’s do this.

Specifically, let’s do Saturday night, but for seven games in a row. Because that may have been the game of the year

(Stefon voice.) The game had everything. The first and second place teams in the overall standings. Two shorthanded goals on the same powerplay. Bad blood. A flying stick. A Horn of Doom. A brawl breaking out after the Horn of Doom. Jack Edwards being weird. Last year’s MVP. Maybe this year’s MVP.

And ultimately, it had a Lightning road win, which snapped a four-game Bruins win streak and avenged a Boston win in Tampa earlier in the week. The whole game was a trip, so much so that the Sportsnet highlight package apparently decided to go full Tarantino and dispense with chronological order. Look, far be it from me to question somebody else’s artistic vision. The whole thing was a ton of fun.

What the game didn’t have is much impact on the standings; barring a collapse, the Bruins are still going to finish first. The Lightning have the same pure win-loss record (both teams have won 43 and lost 26), but this is the NHL so that’s not how we do things. The Bruins hold a six-point lead, which should be safe.

But in the bigger picture, this is the sort of win that can feed into a narrative, and sometimes narratives can matter. The Lightning have spent the last 11 months hearing about how they’re not a playoff team, they can’t win when the going gets tough, they have to change their style, you name it. Does one regular-season win in Boston change any of that? Of course not. Unless they believe it does, in which case … maybe?

It was the last game of the season between the two teams, at least until that Round 2 matchup. And yes, we know how this goes – the hockey gods see how excited we all are, and then they throw a wrench into things. The Lightning get tripped up by a Maple Leafs team with enough talent to give them a series, or a Panthers team that’s back in the picture after Toronto coughed up its California road trip. Maybe the Bruins get upset by a wild-card team from the Metro – remember, the Islanders, Hurricanes and Blue Jackets all won rounds last year. Maybe both teams get knocked out early, because the NHL playoffs are chaos, whether you like it or not. And sure, you could argue that this is a matchup we should see in the third round or even the final, not Round 2. I’m with you.

But for now, it’s OK to think ahead and get just a little bit excited over what might be on the horizon. Because if these two teams could put on that kind of show in a game that probably didn’t even matter all that much, imagine what they could do with a trip to the final four on the line.

All that said, was the Lightning’s win enough to move them past the Bruins for top spot in the top five? I’m sure that’s the main question everyone has heading into this week’s rankings, so we can just go ahead and …

Oh right, I guess there’s that too. OK, let’s sort this out.

>> Read the full post at The Athletic

(Want to read this post on The Athletic for free? Sign up for a free seven-day trial.)

No comments:

Post a Comment