The Boston Bruins open their quest for the Stanley Cup tomorrow night in TD Garden against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The teams matched up well during the regular season and now get to duke it out to advance in the playoffs.
The Bruins finished ahead of the Maple Leafs in the standings and will have home ice advantage during the series. Head to head the Bruins were 3-1 against the Leafs this season and they averaged 4 goals a game while only surrendering 2.5 goals per game.
The Bruins top line will need to be a force once again if they wish to make a deep run towards the Cup. Marchand, Bergeron and Pastrnak will be setting the pace for the whole team as they always do. Marchand led the team in points with 100 points and Pastrnak led the team in goals finishing with 38. The Bruins new look second line fared well during the last few games of the season, now playing along Krejci and DeBrusk is youngster Karson Kuhlman.
When given opportunities Kuhlman has produced on that second unit and has given the Bruins even stronger depth. Kuhlman grabbed 5 points in his 11 games at the NHL level. The third line looks to be Heinen, Coyle and Johansson, all of which struggled to find their offensive stride but can produce. They also provide stable defense and Heinen and Coyle began to find some chemistry towards the end of the year. The fourth line of Nordstrom, Acciari and Wagner has proven to be a stable defensive unit and Backes may slot in if anybody gets hurt or struggles.
On the Bruins backend they are mostly healthy, with Kevan Miller being the only injured blueliner. That top pair of Chara-McAvoy have been a steady defensive unit and logs minutes against the top lines every night. McAvoy has started to find his offensive game as well and is stepping into the light as a great two-way defenseman.
The second unit will be Krug-Carlo, Krug is no stranger to offense as he leads the Bruins d-men in points and runs the Bruins powerplay seamlessly. Carlo will be getting his first taste of playoff action but he’s already had three full NHL seasons and is excited for the task. Carlo has been improving almost every year and it’s great to see him healthy enough to play in the playoffs. With Miller out the third pair will be Grzelcyk and Clifton. Clifton has been a great pickup for the Bruins and has been a key part of their defense since guys have been going down with injuries. He’s filled in on almost every pairing for at least a night and has shown that he’s ready for NHL competition.
In net of course Rask will be starting for the Bruins. He finished the year with a 2.48 GAA and a .912 SV%. Rask was the Bruins number one for the whole year and he’ll look to continue his regular season success into the playoffs. Halak will be the backup and a very capable backup in case Rask were to get injured or have some trouble in the playoffs.
The best of seven series opens tomorrow night at 7:00 as the Bruins face off against the Leafs. The games will be broadcast on NESN and the NBCSN.
-Tyler Smith (@TylerSmith4386)