As mentioned in a post last night, the New York Islanders did the Bruins 2010 draft watch a nice favor by beating Toronto yesterday 4-1 on the Island.
The win was huge on several fronts because it not only extended New York's lead to seven points, but there are only 13 points remaining. A Toronto win would've pulled them to within three points of the Islanders and four of the Hurricanes- just two wins from leapfrogging over the Islanders and Hurricanes for 27th place. The loss yesterday also knocks down the Leafs' growing confidence a peg, reminding them that with that AHL-caliber offensive they have on the ice, goals are going to be hard to come by.
Toronto has moved to within six points of Carolina, but with the way the Hurricanes have been playing and with one game in hand, there's a good chance the 'Canes will put some more distance in front of the 29th-place team. The Blue Jackets are also within striking distance, sitting seven points in front of Toronto along with the Isles, while the Panthers have an eight point cushion.
But the key thing in all of this is the fact that with only 13 games left, it will be hard for Toronto to gain traction and climb over anyone. That's not impossible, so respect the possibility of it happening. But honestly- we've now had nearly 70 games to watch this Toronto team. Does anyone really see them playing that much better than the teams in front of them to erase the cushion and jump ahead?
Stay tuned...every lost point for Toronto looms huge in their ability to climb out of 29th place, but the reality is that with Edmonton being nine points behind the Leafs, any hopes of the Oilers catching up are pretty much dashed and so until that lottery is complete, Bruins fans can't breathe easy. Obviously winning it outright to get that top pick is the desired outcome, but B's fans will have to pray that whichever team is sitting at that 28th spot or even the 27th spot doesn't somehow win it, or else all of the great plans of getting a top-two pick will go up in smoke.
While the NHL lottery system isn't the joke that the NBA employs, one that saw the Celtics drop to fifth overall after finishing with the second-worst record in 2007, no Bruins fan should be smiling even if the Leafs finish 29th...until the desired lottery result is achieved.
Boston Bruins 2010 Draft Picks (Draft position after 1st round estimated based on current standings; lottery not taken into account)
2nd overall- Toronto (58 points; 23-34-12)
15th overall- Boston (72 points; 30-25-12)
32nd overall- Toronto
45th overall- Boston
*Boston traded rights to Tampa Bay second round pick (38th overall) to Florida as part of package for D Dennis Seidenberg
No pick- Traded to Buffalo as part of Daniel Paille trade
93rd overall- Carolina (64 points; 28-32-8)
105th overall- Boston****Conditional to Buffalo if Paille scores 16 goals. If condition not met, Buffalo gets Boston 5th-round pick in 2010
135th overall- Boston*** (To Buffalo if Paille scores 15 goals or less)
165th overall- Boston
195th overall- Boston
Boston Bruins 2011 Draft Picks
Toronto (Completes Phil Kessel trade)
Minnesota (Completes Chuck Kobasew trade)
Boston* (To Anaheim if D Steven Kampfer signs with Boston)
Phoenix (Completes Derek Morris trade- becomes 3rd rounder if UFA Morris re-signs with Coyotes)