For Bruins fans, it may seem hard to believe. After all, wasn't it just yesterday that Tim Thomas, Zdeno Chara and the rest of the 2010-2011 Boston Bruins paraded through the jubilant streets of Beantown with Lord Stanley's Cup?
Yet here we are, gearing up for a chance to watch the B's punch their ticket to the playoffs against the Washington Capitals tonight. A chance to watch the Bruins defend their title.
With the curtain rapidly drawing to a close on the 2011-2012 campaign, there is still much to sort out. Only seven spots have been locked up as of right now, and nearly two weeks remain until playoff time.
With so many teams remaining in the hunt, there is no telling who will make the cut or who will end up where—but as we prepare for the greatest time of the year, hockey fans from all over will gaze into their crystal balls and try to foresee their team's destiny...and who will be standing in their way.
If the Bruins can beat the Caps tonight at the TD Garden, they will clinch their fifth consecutive playoff birth. This is easier said than done, however, as Washington views each remaining game as must-win, trying to claw their way back into the playoff picture.
There is no guarantee, and crazier things have certainly happened, but with Boston in great shape to lock up a coveted playoff spot, what might lie in store for the Black and Gold on the other side?
Here is a list (in no particular order) of the three teams in the playoff picture that might have Bruins fans licking their chops, as well as three teams (again, no particular order) that may raise some concerns.