BOSTON - With Mookie Betts gone and Tom Brady seemingly likely gone, the Boston Red Sox and the New England Patriots are no longer the dominant championship forces in Boston. I would say that a title for the Celtics or the Bruins is way more likely at this point. Both teams have truly come into their own.
Where They Stand: The Bruins still manage to hold onto the best record in the NHL, but only by a slim margin. Their 94 points come from a 41-13-12 record, but the Lightning is nipping at their heels with 87 points. With 16 games remaining, the home stretch of the regular season for the Bruins begins now.
As for the Celtics, they have struggled when playing against the league's top brass. Currently, that has them with a 41-18 record, which just a half-game back of the Raptors for the second seed in the East. However, they are ten and a half back of the Bucks, who control the one seed. Only 23 games remain in the regular season for the Celtics.
Who's Hurt?: Knock on wood, but the Bruins are faring well with injuries thus far. Most recently, Chris Wagner was labeled as day-to-day yesterday, but if that's the biggest problem, then it might not be a worry at all.
As for the Celtics, I'm quite nervous about Kemba Walker. He is currently an extremely limited rest because of a knee ailment, but the Celtics need him to recover well if they want any chance of advancing far in the playoffs.
Biggest Strength: The biggest strength for both teams is the stars who have emerged for them. David Pastrnak is a frontrunner for the Hart trophy and Jayson Tatum is blossoming right in front of our eyes. I've written plenty about them both, but they are some of the best players in their respective sports and it is thrilling to watch.
Biggest Weakness: Do the Bruins have a weakness? Right now, it seems like the Bruins have even managed to improve their special teams Achilles heel. However, that 9-3 loss to Vancouver sticks out. The Bruins do have a tendency to exasperate bad situations and make them even worse. They need to focus on the next goal, not the previous one.
The Celtics have a tendency to get ice cold or, at least, streaky on the court. If Jayson Tatum isn't raking the competition, it seems like no one is. Yes, the Celtics lack for height (and where is Enes Kanter?), but they also seem to lack confidence at times.
Where to Next: At this point, the Bruins have to start getting ready for the post-season. By the next time we check-in, the playoffs will be about to begin and the Bruins will need to make sure they are not in danger of being the dominant regular-season team that gets swept in the first round, like the Lightning last year.
As for the Celtics, they are also in the home stretch. Their playoffs are a bit further out, but they have a tough stretch of games coming up soon. If they want to prove they belong in the "contenders" tier, they need to start putting together some viable winning streaks.
Image via Flickr/Jorge Cancela