The Boston Bruins prolonged their possession of the Toronto Maple Leafs within the opening spherical, rallying from a Three-2 collection deficit to get rid of them in seven video games. The Bruins used a well-known method: grasp protection and goaltending, dynamic play from their top-line gamers and the inevitability of Nazem Kadri doing one thing idiotic to earn a multiple-game suspension.
Now the Bruins have a good more difficult take a look at: one of the crucial perfect regular-season groups in NHL historical past, the Tampa Ba…
Wait, what? Swept? Within the first spherical? By way of the Columbus Blue Jackets, a franchise that had by no means gained 3 video games in a playoff collection, let by myself 4? That in point of fact took place? Guy, the Washington Capitals in point of fact did ruin the NHL space-time continuum after they gained the Stanley Cup …
Kidding apart, the Jackets had been by no means the heavy underdogs they had been portrayed to be, completing 13th within the NHL in issues (with a greater report than 3 Western Convention playoff groups) and having gained seven of 8 video games down the stretch to make the playoffs.
In fact, that one defeat all over the stretch was once a 6-2 embarrassment on house ice. Their opponent? The Boston Bruins. Right here we move.
First line: It is a difficult one to research. The Bruins have one of the crucial perfect traces in hockey in Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak, although jointly they were not the 200-foot juggernaut they had been closing season. (Accidents had been an element.) However the difficult phase is that trainer Bruce Cassidy broke them up within the Toronto collection; Pastrnak were given simply as a lot time at Five-on-Five with David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk as he did along with his standard linemates. For Columbus, its peak line is technically the Artemi Panarin team with Oliver Bjorkstrand and Pierre-Luc Dubois, however its most efficient line was once most likely Matt Duchene, Cam Atkinson and Ryan Dzingel within the first spherical. In the end, the Bruins can nonetheless put in combination the most productive peak trio. Benefit: Bruins.
Intensity: The Kadri suspension was once a killer for the Leafs as a result of they did have a bonus over the Bruins at ahead. Sure, Boston’s 2d line with Krejci is potent and its bottom-six forwards (Joakim Nordstrom, Marcus Johansson and Sean Kuraly) got here up huge in Sport 7. However for the second one directly collection, Boston does not have the similar degree of ahead intensity as its opponent. The Jackets have two dynamic scoring traces and a 3rd one with Nick Foligno, Josh Anderson and rookie Alexandre Texier that has been in point of fact forged within the postseason. Upload in a pesky fourth line with Boone Jenner, Brandon Dubinsky and previous Bruin Riley Nash, and the Jackets are the deeper membership. Benefit: Blue Jackets.
Protection: Zdeno Chara, 42, and his younger ward Charlie McAvoy, 21, were not dominant defensively opposed to the Leafs, however they performed smartly sufficient to stay Toronto’s maximum explosive line in take a look at within the latter a part of the collection via forged defensive play (and, in Chara’s case, the occasional punch to John Tavares‘ head when the refs were not taking a look). Brandon Carlo and Torey Krug misplaced the ownership fit opposed to Toronto however were not a legal responsibility. Matt Grzelcyk was once a minus-Three in objective differential for the collection at the 3rd pairing. For the Jackets, Seth Jones is the type of foundational defenseman a championship workforce wishes, and his pairing with Zach Werenski may well be the most productive duo within the collection. After that, the Jackets have David Savard and Markus Nutivaara, after which a mix of Scott Harrington, Dean Kukan and Adam Clendening. Benefit: Bruins.
Goaltending: Whether or not it is his forthcoming free-agent contract talks or just playoff adulthood, Sergei Bobrovsky in the end put in combination a postseason spherical worthy of his regular-season accomplishments, with a .932 save share and a 2.01 goals-against moderate in 4 video games opposed to the Lightning. Tuukka Rask was once additionally sturdy within the opening spherical, and particularly in Sport 7, posting a .928 save share and a 2.32 goals-against moderate. Benefit: Even.
Well being: The Bruins are lacking injured defensemen Kevan Miller, who’s week-to-week as a result of a decrease physique damage, and Connor Clifton, who neglected the closing 5 video games of the outlet spherical as a result of an upper-body damage. For Columbus, Nutivaara was once injured on that play when Nikita Kucherov earned his one-game suspension, however the Jackets hope to have him again. They are much less positive about defenseman Ryan Murphy, who hasn’t performed since Feb. 19 however is skating once more, and time limit pickup Adam McQuaid, a former Bruin who’s out as a result of an upper-body damage. Benefit: Even.
Particular groups: Glance, the Blue Jackets are not going to roll to a 50-percent clip at the energy play opposed to the Bruins the best way they did opposed to the Lightning. The true query is whether or not their penalty kill, which was once Five-for-6 opposed to Tampa’s traditionally just right energy play and tied for first within the steady season, can tame a Bruins’ energy play that was once 3rd within the steady season and rolled to seven aims in 16 makes an attempt vs. Toronto. Benefit: Blue Jackets.
Training: John Tortorella will not be everybody’s cup of tea, within the sense that tea in most cases does not bellow and belittle you. However he coached an excellent collection opposed to the Lightning, the use of the Jackets’ 1-2-2 forecheck to perfection; and at the back of the scenes, he labored exhausting to transparent the air on problems within the Columbus room right through the season. Bruce Cassidy, in the meantime, continues to push the fitting buttons tactically and inside of his lineup. He outcoached Mike Babcock within the first spherical … despite the fact that one is starting to surprise what degree of feat that in point of fact is in this day and age. Benefit: Even.
Sequence prediction: Jackets in six.