For the first time in a long four years, the Boston Bruins are returning to the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals.
With three opportunities to eliminate the Toronto Maple Leafs, the B’s capitalized in the final game with a 7-4 victory on home ice to defeat the Maple Leafs in Round One of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Boston had some huge help from Danton Heinen, Patrice Bergeron, Torey Krug, David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand, and of course two massive goals from Jake DeBrusk, including the game-winning goal in the third period.
With the series win, the Boston Bruins now have a two-day break before starting Round Two against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Season Series – Four Games
Throughout the regular season, the Boston Bruins played the Lightning on four different occasions, finishing with a record of 3-1-0 in that span. With a total of ten goals for and eight against, the season matchup between the Bolts and the B’s was entertaining nonetheless.
Both teams battled near the end of the 2017-18 season to see who finished atop the Eastern Conference, but as we know, Tampa Bay did end up gaining enough points to secure the top spot and guarantee an opening series against the New Jersey Devils. While at the same time, the Bruins faced the Maple Leafs, which we, of course, saw conclude Wednesday night in Boston.
Boston’s three wins during the season came consecutively on November 29th, March 17th, and March 29th, while the Lightning took home their sole win over the Bruins earlier this month, on April 3rd.
In each game prior to April 3rd, Boston played a good all-around game. Scores in the wins were 3-2, 3-0, and 4-2 while losing 4-0 on the 3rd.
INDIVIDUAL STATS (Regular Season):
Boston Bruins Leading Scorers:
F David Pastrnak – 82GP – 35G – 45A – 80PTS
F Brad Marchand – 68GP – 34G – 51A – 85PTS
F Brad Marchand* – 68GP – 34G – 51A – 85PTS
*Marchand led Bruins in regular season assists and points.
Tuukka Rask – 54 GP 34 W – 14 L – 5 OTL – 2.36 GAA – .917 SV%
Anton Khudobin – 31 GP – 16 W – 6 L – 7 OTL – 2.56 GAA – 9.13 SV%
Tampa Bay Lightning Leading Scorers:
F Nikita Kucherov** – 80GP – 39G – 61A – 100P
F Steven Stamkos – 78GP – 27G – 59A – 86P
F Brayden Point – 82GP – 32G – 34A – 66P
**Kucherov led Lightning in regular season goals, assists, and points.
Andrei Vasilevskiy – 65GP 44 W – 17 L – 3 OTL – 2.62 GAA – .919 SV%
Louis Domingue – 12GP 7 W – 3 L – 1 OTL – 2.89 GAA – .914 SV%
TEAM STATS (Regular Season)
Offensive Stats for Boston Bruins :
Goals For Per Game – 3.26 (6th in NHL)
Powerplay Percentage – 23.6% (4th in NHL)
Shots/GP – 33 (9th in NHL)
Even Strength Goals – 197 (6th in NHL)
Powerplay Goals – 61 (5th in NHL)
Offensive Stats for Tampa Bay Lightning:
Goals For Per Game – 3.54 (1st in NHL)
Powerplay Percentage – 23.9% (3rd in NHL)
Shots/GP – 32.8 (11th in NHL)
Even Strength Goals – 214 (1st in NHL)
Powerplay Goals – 66 (2nd in NHL)
Defensive Stats for Boston Bruins:
Goals Against Per Game – 2.57 (4th in NHL)
Penalty-Kill Percentage – 83.6% (3rd best in NHL)
Shots Against/GP – 29.3 (2nd Least in NHL)
Even-Strength Goals Against – 161 (6th Least in NHL)
Defensive Stats for Tampa Bay Lightning:
Goals Against Per Game – 2.85 (13th in NHL)
Penalty-Kill Percentage – 76.1% (28th in NHL)
Shots Against/GP – 32.7 (10th in NHL)
Even-Strength Goals Against – 167 (8th Least in NHL)
INDIVIDUAL LEADERS (First Round of Playoffs)
Boston Bruins Leading Scorers:
F Jake DeBrusk – 7GP – 5G – 2A – 7P
F David Pastrnak – 7GP – 5G – 8A – 13P
F David Pastrnak*** – 7GP – 5G – 8A – 13P
***Pastrnak leads in assists and points.
Tampa Bay Lightning Leading Scorers:
F Nikita Kucherov**** – 5GP – 5G – 5A – 10P
F Steven Stamkos – 5GP – 1G – 5A– 6P
****Kucherov leads in goals and points.
First Round Results
Boston Bruins def. Toronto Maple Leafs ~ 4-3
Tampa Bay Lightning def. New Jersey Devils ~ 4-1
Like the Bruins, the Lightning won the first two games on home ice against their first-round opponent, the New Jersey Devils. Also like Boston, Tampa lost their first game of the series in the third game. However, in Game Four, the Bolts were able to win by a score of 3-1, setting up a possible elimination in Game Five on home ice.
With the opportunity, the Lightning would capitalize. With another three-to-one victory, Tampa Bay would eliminate the New Jersey Devils, four games to one.
One thing that may or may not play a role in the way the series starts, is when the Lightning finished their series with the Devils. Due to the early elimination, the Lightning will have completed a ten-day break prior to Saturday’s Game One. This compared to Boston’s short two-day break since Wednesday’s Game Seven.
Boston’s weakness throughout the entire series was the shakiness in goal. Tuukka Rask managed to hold his own in some of the seven games, but he also allowed four goals in three of the games, including being pulled in Game Five.
Another big issue for the black and gold against the Maple Leafs would be the missed opportunities on the offensive side of the puck.
With the struggles in net and on offence, the Bruins managed to come together in the third period of Game Seven to secure the series win and advance to the second round and live to play again. Boston’s blueline shut down the fast, skilled Toronto forwards that were so feared before the best-of-seven series began.
Boston held Toronto to only eight shots in the final frame, limiting almost every main chance that the Leafs gained. The majority of the shots on goal came in the final minutes with Frederik Andersen pulled from the net. The B’s also contributed with four, third period goals to solidify the 7-4 win.
Well, I feel it is an appropriate time to look at the predictions from the entire BlacknGold website team! Make sure to follow them all on Twitter and check out their articles in the past.
Mark Allred (@BlackAndGold227) – Bruins win 4-2
KG (@kgbngblog) – Bruins win 4-3
Lucas Salvatore (@lsalvatore29) – Bruins win 4-2
Mike Cratty (@Mike_Cratty) – Bruins win 4-2
Garrett Haydon (@thesportsguy97) – Bruins win 4-3
Rob Tomlin (@rob40bruins) – Bruins win 4-2
Lauren Campbell (@lalalalaurrrren) – Bruins win 4-1
Court Lalonde (@courtlalonde) – 4-2
Thomas Nystrom (@nahstrom) – Bruins win 4-2
Adam Belue (@albinomamba44) – Lightning win 4-2
Andrew Thompson (@Godwentwhoops) – 4-1
Spencer Fascetta (@PuckNerdHockey) – Bruins win 4-3
And, in conclusion, my official prediction. In a hard-fought battle, the Boston Bruins will come out with the win in Game Seven, in Tampa, Florida. With a combination of the defense and depth for the Bruins and the offensive talent of the Lightning, this series will be a close, back-and-forth one.
Puck drop for Game One is scheduled for today at 3pm EST in Tampa, Florida.