The next 12 games are critical for the Boston Bruins. They need to make it to the Olympic break without falling too far out of the playoff picture. As it stands, they are in 7th place in the East with some games in hand on teams in front of them. Those games in hand will be made up during the final 9 games before the break that they play in ONLY 15 DAYS! This 9 games includes 2 games each against BUF and MTL as well as very difficult home games against WAS and VAN. If they falter during this stretch, it could be curtains on the season. The way I see it, they need to get 12 points out of these 12 games, which is still below average with the ridiculous 3-point game. Unfortunately, I'm not so sure they will be able to come out of this with that many points. They will certainly need to get off to a good start against the Jackets (Thursday) and Canes (Sunday) who are the weakest opponents on the sched before the break.
What gives me hope that they will make the playoffs is the teams behind them - the East is clearly much weaker than the West this year. Two of these teams will have to pass our Bruins (assuming the Rangers and Sens even remain in front of them). The only one that worries me is Philly. The Isles, Habs, Thrash, Panthers, and Ning all have their own problems and will likely continue to be mediocre. Toronto and Carolina are basically out of it already.
These 12 games are also going to have a bearing on what Peter Chiarelli decides to do at the deadline. A guy that we will see tomorrow night for the Jackets could be a guy that ends up with the spoked B on his chest if the Jackets continue their freefall: Raffi Torres. He has a modest $2.25M cap hit and will be a UFA after this season - he provides some much-needed grit and he can provide offense as well (in a recent 6-game stretch he potted 5 goals - 16 on the season). The asking price for him likely wouldn't even approach the 2nd rounder we have from Toronto. This is a make-able trade unlike the ridiculous Kovalchuk talk out there in the blogosphere.