Bruins can clinch Presidents' Trophy on Tuesday
The Boston Bruins are in the midst of a historic season and can officially clinch the No.1 spot in the Eastern Conference and the Presidents' Trophy on Tuesday.
Boston leads the NHL with 119 points and can lock up home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs with a win over the Nashville Predators and a loss by the Carolina Hurricanes to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday.
Boston can tie the 2001-02 Detroit Red Wings as the third-fastest team (74 games) to clinch the Presidents' Trophy. That Red Wings team went on to defeat the Hurricanes in five games in the 2002 Stanley Cup Final to become one of eight teams to win both the Presidents' Trophy and the Stanley Cup in the same season.
The Bruins have had a bounce-back year after finishing 51-26-5 for fourth place in the Atlantic Division in 2021-22 and securing the first wild-card position. They went on to give the Metropolitan Division-winning Hurricanes all they could handle before losing in seven games in the first round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs. They fired coach Bruce Cassidy after the season and hired Jim Montgomery as his replacement.
The team began this season with a historic start going 19-3 in October and November without core players such as all-star forward Brad Marchand and defencemen Charlie McAvoy.and Matt Grzelcyk. Upon those players' return, the Bruins didn't slow down and clinched the Atlantic Division title on Thursday.
Boston would host Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round if the playoffs began on Tuesday.
The Western Conference leading Vegas Golden Knights can also clinch a playoff spot with a regulation win over the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday. In the race for first place the Pacific Division, the Golden Knights are ahead of the Los Angeles Kings and are three points ahead of the Minnesota Wild for top spot in the West.
Wild Race to the Finish
The Eastern Conference's two Wild Card spots are still up for grabs with the New York Islanders (85 points) and Penguins (82 points) occupying the positions with 18 days left in the regular season. The Penguins also have a game in hand over the Florida Panthers, who are three points back of a Wild Card spot.
The Buffalo Sabres, Ottawa Senators, and Washington Capitals are all within six points of the Penguins for the final playoff spot in the East.
In the West, the two Wild Card positions are held by the Seattle Kraken (88 points) and Winnipeg Jets (85 points) with the Calgary Flames on the outside looking in with 81 points.
The Nashville Predators are still within striking distance of the final playoff spot and are currently five points back of the Jets with two games in hand.