By: Nathan Anderson | Follow me on Twitter @nathandrsn
This year’s Boston Bruins team feels like a special one. They feel like a team that could go all the way. Added to that feeling is the possibility that it is the final NHL season for both Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci. Putting everything together, this feels like a potential team of destiny.
Despite all the fantastic players the Bruins have rolled onto the ice over the years, this team may be the best we have ever seen. They haven’t mathematically clinched a playoff spot yet, but playing the remainder of their schedule seems like a formality. With no doubt that the Bruins will be in the playoffs – and most likely as the top seed – my mind has turned to who I want to see them face in the first round and beyond.
I assume the Bruins get the top seed in these picks, at least in the Eastern Conference, so I have a wide-open selection for the first round. My instincts tell me to choose either the Red Wings or the Sabres for the Bruins’ first opponent. I’d be fine with either opponent, but I’d probably prefer the Sabres. Even though they have a much bigger star in Tage Thompson, as a whole, I think their team has less depth. No team will be easy to face in the playoffs, but the Sabres would put up the least resistance.
After that, it gets challenging quickly. If they can get past the first round, the Bruins will likely have to face the Toronto Maple Leafs or Tampa Bay Lightning. I have no idea which team I’d rather see the Bruins play. Both would be extremely tough matchups, and it makes me wish the playoff format would be changed so that it wasn’t inevitable for the Bruins to face one of them so early.
Since I have to pick, I’ll choose the Lightning to spite the Leafs. If the Lightning get through the first round, that means the Leafs still haven’t won a series since 2004, and that’s good enough for me. So, the Bruins would have to get past the Lightning. They’ve made three Cup Finals in a row, so beating them will be no easy task, but this is the year to do it.
Now we’re on to the Eastern Conference final. For this, I’ll choose from the teams in the top three spots in the Metropolitan Division. I don’t see any of them sliding down to the second wild-card spot, so they’ll probably end up on the Metro side of the bracket. Of those teams, the process of elimination makes my choice pretty simple.
I don’t want to see the Hurricanes under any circumstances. They are so dangerous and so deep as a team. If there is any team that matches up against the Bruins, it’s them. I also don’t want to see the Rangers. They made it to the conference final last season, and after adding Vladamir Tarasenko, they scare me. That leaves us with the New Jersey Devils, which I feel okay about.
Yes, the Devils have some serious star power. Jack Hughes is showing everyone why he was picked number one overall in 2019, and Dougie Hamilton is a player I still wish the Bruins held on to. I believe there is a severe skill drop on their roster, though. I don’t mean disrespecting the players down on the bottom lines, but they don’t scare me much. The Bruins could handle the Devils, sending them to the Stanley Cup Final.
At this point, whoever the Bruins play will be a competitive opponent. They’ll have won 12 games already and defeated some brilliant teams along the way. There hasn’t been a sweep in the Cup Final since 1998. I don’t expect that to change this year, but I won’t sit on the fence and not choose someone. I’m picking the Los Angeles Kings to face the Bruins for the Stanley Cup.
From a uniform standpoint, I would hate watching the Kings in black and white for at least four games in a row. I don’t know how their fans put up with watching those uniforms every game. As a Bruins fan, though, I would be significantly more confident facing the Kings than any other team in the Western Conference.
The Kings have some fantastic players, but playing them means we’d avoid seeing someone like Connor McDavid, Nathan MacKinnon, Cale Makar, or Connor Hellebuyck. It also means we wouldn’t see Vegas, Dallas, or Seattle, who have played the Bruins well this season. If the Bruins manage to face the Sabres, Lightning, Devils, and Kings, I think the Bruins have a great chance to make history this season.