By: Lucas Pearson | Follow Me On Twitter @LucasPearson_
Well, that was a great game to start the series off. There’s no question it’ll continue to be an excellent series, featuring stars on both sides of the ice, but how do two of the best forward cores in the league match up? With Steven Stamkos’ health in question, that gives a huge advantage to the Bruins, but let’s take a look at how the two teams match upfront.
First Line: Bruins
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak
Ondrej Palat – Brayden Point – Nikita Kucherov
No Stamkos, no problem for the Lightning. You could easily make the argument that Brayden Point is a better player than Stammer, and I wouldn’t argue against you. He is everything you want in a number one center, he plays a great 200-foot game, and his speed and skill are apparent all over the ice. When partnered up with the stud that is Nikita Kucherov, the duo are untouchable. The two have eleven and ten points respectively and were a huge reason why the Lightning were able to hold off Columbus. Despite having a solid two-way presence with Ondrej Palat to their left, you still have to give the edge to the Bruins top line.
It’s just the best line in hockey. To have a Selke winner, Rocket Richard winner, and a 100 point player is something on one line is something no other team can boast. It’s truly the best line in hockey, and I don’t think many people will stand in the way of that claim. The trio has already combined for eight goals in the playoffs and have looked great since Pastrnak’s return.
Second Line: Bruins
Jake Debrusk – David Krejci – Ondrej Kase
Alex Kilhorn – Anthony Cirelli – Tyler Johnson
This is the most excited I’ve been with the Bruins’ second line since Jarome Iginla. Ondrej Kase has made this line such a force in the offensive zone. His speed is an excellent complement to Krejci’s playmaking ability, and the two Czechmen have developed some sound chemistry early on. The duo, along with Jake Debrusk has a 60.1 Corsi so far in the playoffs and playoff David Krejci is in full force. The Bruins may end up living and dying by this line, and I’ve got faith that this line will show up in the second round.
This Lightning trio is complete. They all work their asses off and can generate a lot of chances because of their speed. Kilhorn and Johnson have proven to be playoff performers in the past (45 and 55 career playoff points respectively), and Anthony Cirelli dazzles when he’s on the ice. He’s going to be a really good player for a long time. But with all that being said, I think this line doesn’t quite have as much firepower as the B’s.
Third Line: Lightning
Nick Ritchie – Charlie Coyle – Anders Bjork
Barclay Goodrow – Yanni Gourde – Blake Coleman
This line has a lot of potential for the Bruins. Bjork and Coyle have developed some really nice chemistry and are always great with the puck on their sticks. Ritchie hasn’t looked great since the return to play, but he has the ability to add another element to this line. His size could bode well against another big team like Tampa, and if he gets going, this 3rd line could be a weapon for the Bruins.
I love the 3rd line of the Lightning. They throw their bodies everywhere, and despite their physicality, they can score. The two trade deadline acquisitions of Coleman and Goodrow look great to the sides of a speedy center like Yanni Gourde. All three have a goal (Gourde has two) and a plus rating since being put together these playoffs. This line could be a real problem for the Bruins when they get going.
Fourth Line: Wash
Joakim Nordstrom – Sean Kuraly – Chris Wagner
Patrick Maroon – Mitchell Stephens – Cedric Paquette
I can’t really find an edge in this matchup. We saw how awful it was to play against Maroon in the Finals last season, and Paquette does that same job. It’s an old-style 4th line that will just batter you with hits and is incredibly tough to play against. Boston’s 4th line is no slouch, either. After an OK regular season, they have been on their A-game in the playoffs. Joakim Nordstrom is always the hardest working guy on the ice, putting his body on the line blocking shot after shot. Wagner has potted two goals, and we’ve already seen the Kuraleap in action. It’s going to be fun to watch when these two lines bruise it out.
Game two is tonight, and I couldn’t be more excited. Stay tuned for how these two great defenses match up as well. Go Bs.