The Bruins’ first round opponent will be determined on the last day of the regular season. Per Ty Anderson of 98.5 The Sports Hub, if the Bruins win and the Lightning lose in any fashion, the Bruins will play the Toronto Maple Leafs. Or if the Bruins lose in overtime and the Lightning lose in regulation. Any other result would line up the Carolina Hurricanes as their first-round opponent. All in all, playoff hockey starts next week, and I am ecstatic. Let us do a preview of both matchups ahead of Friday night’s games.
Bruins and Maple Leafs first-round matchup
Coincidentally the Bruins and Maple Leafs play each other tonight, which could lead into a first-round matchup. Surprisingly, these two divisional teams have only met twice this season with Toronto winning both games. The first game was at the beginning of the season where the Leafs were firing on all cylinders and the Bruins were not. The second match up occurred during an impressive stretch of play by the Bruins, but for this one game they really did not show up. A first-round matchup worries me as a Bruins fan. The Leafs are rolling into the playoffs with their usual worries: goaltending and defense. I would emphasize the goaltending woes this post season. However, the Bruins have struggled with fast paced teams this season and the law of averages has the Leafs eventually winning a first round series against the Bruins. Landing a first-round dance against the Leafs also means the Bruins are in the Atlantic division playoff bracket which is arguably the stronger division in the East. Not to take away from the Metropolitan division by any means.
Bruins and Hurricanes first-round matchup
Like the Maple Leafs, the Hurricanes have a bone to pick with the Bruins. The Bruins have knocked them out of the playoffs twice in the last three seasons. The Hurricanes owned the Bruins in the regular season, winning all three matchups all while outscoring the Bruins 16 to 1. The Hurricanes are hoping to get goaltender Freddie Anderson back and healthy in time for the start playoffs next week. This would be a big issue if he is unable to play. For the Bruins there is no way to sugarcoat it, they need to find ways to get pucks past the former Maple Leafs goaltender as they have in previous postseasons. Landing the Hurricanes in the first round is tough. However, it would place the Bruins in the Metropolitan division bracket which is arguably more favorable for the Bruins. Not having to face the Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs or Washington Capitals bodes well for the Bruins.
(Image Source: theathletic.com)
-Josh Croteau (@_jcro on Twitter)
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