By: Danielle DuBois | Follow Me on Twitter @DanielleDuBois
The Bruins playoffs are officially underway. With the Bruins facing the Panthers in the first round, let’s discuss the other possible opponents that the Bruins could face if they make it out of the first round.
If the Bruins win the series over the Panthers, they will have to face the Leafs/lightning series winner. So which team would be the easier path for the Bruins? I believe that the Bruins would have an easier time facing the Leafs. While both teams are great, the Leafs are the best option for the Bruins’ future.
In the regular season, the Leafs went 50-21-11 and sat second in the Atlantic division. While the Leafs have a great offense with Auston Matthews and Mitchell Marner, they don’t have a strong defense. To succeed in the postseason, you have to have defensive depth and good goaltending.
The Lightning, on the other hand, went 46-30-6 and was third place in the Atlantic division. While the Lightning weren’t as good as in past seasons, they have playoff experience. The Lightning are built for the playoffs. No matter what occurs during the regular season, you can count on Tampa Bay making some noise during the playoffs. What truly stands out about the Lightning is their incredible goaltending and strong defense. With Andrei Vasilevskiy in as goalie, you have almost nothing to worry about. Vasilevskiy had a save percentage of .915 this season.
Obviously, the Bruins might not play either of these teams, but let’s break down the two teams and see which one would be better to face in the playoffs. The Bruins know what it’s like to face the Hurricanes in the playoffs. The Canes play well at home and play decent on the road. It’s not hard to break their playoff code; they win every game at home and one on the road. Center Martin Necas leads the Canes with 71 points and 43 assists, while Sebastian Aho leads in goals with 36. The Canes went 52-21-9 in the regular season and were the second-best team in the NHL.
The Islanders, on the other hand, play with a speed and passion that is very unique. This season they went 42-31-9 and were fourth in the metropolitan division. Despite a very average season, they always were difficult to play. The Islanders carry themselves like every game is their last, but let’s be honest, Brock Nelson carried them into the playoffs. Nelson led the team with 75 points, 36 goals, and 39 assists.
The goalie duo of Ilya Sorokin and Semyon Varlamov has also been very consistent this season, and both had strong showings this season. The Islanders are worse than the Hurricanes, so it would be the easiest path if the Bruins had to face them. However, that doesn’t seem like it will happen, as the Canes lead the series 3-1.
The New Jersey Devils came out and shocked the world this season. We knew they had potential last season, but this year was different. Young star Jack Hughes was the clear leader of the team. Hughes carried the team with 99 points, 43 goals, and 56 assists. With a substantial amount of young talent and speed, it was hard to play against the Devils. They skate circles around the older NHL teams, and it’s hard to compete with. The Devils went 52-22-8 this regular season and ended up second in the metropolitan division.
Patrick Kane and the New York Rangers. There is so much to say about this team but not enough time. So where do we start? Well, first off, the Rangers have acquired Patrick Kane this season. As if they didn’t have enough talent on their team, this made them officially have the best roster in the NHL, in my opinion. Having Adam Fox, Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider, and Kane all on the same team is an insane amount of talent. Oh, and they have one of the best goalies in the league, Igor Shesterkin, who had a .916 save percentage this season.
This matchup is one of the best matchups in the first round. If the Bruins have to face one of these teams, I think the Devils would be easier to get past, but either team will give the Bruins a run for their money. Currently, the Rangers lead the series 2-1.
These are all what if’s, but it’s good to think about the future of this playoff run. The eastern conference has some outstanding teams this season, and it should be an exciting playoff season, to say the least.