It’s been a very long, very weird season — and for both the Boston Bruins and the New York Islanders, the season just got that much longer.
In what should have been an easy win for the Bruins, the Buffalo Sabres magically found their goaltending and took home an overtime shootout win; with the Ottawa Senators doing the same in their own shootout victory over the Carolina Hurricanes, the Bruins grow dangerously close to slipping out of a playoff spot once more.
The defending president’s trophy champs weren’t alone in having a really rough night, though — the New York Islanders came dangerously close to getting shut out by the surging Chicago Blackhawks.
The Bruins aren’t the only team to have been pushed to overtime by the Sabres in recent weeks. Both the Washington Capitals and the Toronto Maple Leafs narrowly missed dropping games to the team sitting in dead last across the league; Toronto was only able to squeak out a win after pulling some scoring out in the third period to tie the game, and the Capitals had a lights out Braden Holtby to thank for their win. For Boston, though, it wasn’t even that the Sabres managed to be particularly dominant — the Bruins are just struggling that badly on offense. Truly — the only person on Boston’s active roster with over twenty goals on the season is Brad Marchand, who has twenty-two; combined with a team scoring leader only boasting forty-eight points (Patrice Bergeron, and one of Marchand’s regular linemates) it’s hard to imagine a scenario where the B’s manage to turn their season around too much in the final few weeks.
The Islanders, though, are dealing with much bigger issues — they’ve got an injured Jaroslav Halak being backed up by a new on the scene Michal Neuvirth, and the team’s defense is faltering more than one would expect with the absence of Nick Leddy. The Chicago Blackhawks are a strong team, there’s no denying that — but if the Islanders expect to make a deep playoff run, they need to be capable of holding their own against the Western Conference power-house.
If it’s any consolation to fans of the two teams, though, the Pittsburgh Penguins are dealing with issues of their own — in their last three games, Sidney Crosby and his teammates have been shut out twice and outscored by a total combination of 9-1. It’s not all roses for the teams we all expect to dominate down the stretch.