After the Columbus Blue Jackets beat the Toronto Maple Leafs in the last regulation game of the season; the Bruins now have their first opponent of the NHL playoffs, the Ottawa Senators. This is a much better match-up comparing to the one we would of had if Toronto had won; we would have had to face the Washington Capitals, the President Cup trophy winner, in the first round.
Though some might consider this a good match-up, it’s not really. Ottawa swept the Bruins this regular season, 4-0 when these two teams met in the regular season. They usually beat us by 1 or 2 goals in those match-ups, which isn’t terrible but nonetheless the Bruins couldn’t score.
To make matters worse for the Bruins, they may of lost Krug for this playoff series as well; having a lower body injury and reports saying he’s been seen around the facility in crutches. Another injury that hurts the Bruins too is defenseman Brandon Carlo, who got hurt against the Captials in the final game of the season. He also has a lower body injury and is considered “day-to-day”. So with both of those players out (Carlo’s status depending how serious the injury is), the Bruins have only 5 healthy defensemen on the roster.
The Bruins go into the playoffs uncertain; first they went on a 6 game winning streak to get into the playoffs, now they’ve lost the last 2 games of the season and the injury bug has hit them at the worst time possible. The Senators, on the other hand, have no big injuries on their team and seem ready to make a playoff run. Whether or not we can compete with the Senators is the question; seeing how we lost to them in a shootout just a few days ago.
If anything this will be a goalie battle between these two teams in this playoff series. Anderson (2.28 GA and .926 SV%) and Rask (2.23 GA and .915 SV%) have almost identical stats; a even match-up between the two. Though we don’t know which Rask we’ll be getting in the playoffs, the fact that him and Anderson are evenly matched should give us a sigh of relief (for now). Reason why I’m saying this series will be a goalie battle is because of the Bruins injuries. I’m not expecting a defense led by Chara to make an impact in this series; with Krug and Carlo out of the lineup, the defense has some holes in it. The offense looks to be healthy and with Marchand coming back into the playoffs (who was suspended during the time they faced the Senators), the Bruins should fair well against the Ottawa defense. The Ottawa defense has allowed and average of 2.61 goals a game; which compared to the Bruins who allow an average of 2.59 goals a game, is again a fair match-up between the two. But with the injuries on the defense side for the Bruins, that number may not seem to matter in this match-up.
These two team match-up evenly, but that doesn’t explain why the Bruins got swept during the regular season against the Senators. The Bruins this season have averaged 1.5 goals against the Senators, while Ottawa has averaged 3 goals against us this season. So in sense the Ottawa offense is skating all over the Bruins defense and getting shots past Rask a numerous of times. If the Bruins were to be successful in this series, they have to overcome the injuries on defense and slow Ottawa down on offense. Rask needs to be on his “A” game and really play well against this team that seems to have his number, and the Bruins offense needs to play fast and smart. The offense is basically the key to this match-up; all season long this offense has played at a high level. Their offense has averaged 2.85 goals a game (13th in the league), while Ottawa has averaged 2.59 a game; 22nd in the league.
I’m predicting the Bruins pull this out, despite having injuries on the defensive side. I just think with Marchand back in the lineup he can make a difference and Rask should be able to play like the goalie we all wanted him to be. It will be a battle, but I think the Bruins will win this in six games.
The NHL playoffs start April 12th, whether or not the Bruins will play that day is still undetermined.