How The Bruins Stack Up In The East For 2019-20 Campaign?

(Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer – Getty Images)

By: Ian Frazier  |  Follow Me On Twitter @ifrazier95

With the offseason in full gear, teams around the league have started preparations for the 2019-2020 season. The Bruins, while having a quiet offseason so far, have made a couple of minor moves to help their depth out like bringing back Steve Kampfer and Connor Clifton as well as signing free agent Brett Ritchie and Par Lidholm. While we await the news on both McAvoy and Carlo lets take a look at how the Bruins match up with the rest of the eastern conference as of today.

Atlantic Divison 

The Bruins’ division so far this offseason have made upgrades and has some question marks too. The Tampa Bay lightning are the favorites to win the division again, and it would be silly to think the Bruins are on their level after the last regular season’s finish. While the Lightning did lose a key defenseman in Stralman, they added a decent defenseman in Luke Schenn as well as Nolan Foote in the draft. They also signed ex-Hurricane goalie Curtis McElhinney and ex-Devil Scott Wedgewood. They still have the rest of the original gang from last season returning with the question mark being Point and how much will Tampa Bay pay him and for how many years? As it stands right now, the Bruins goaltending duo of Rask and Halak is right on par with Tampa’s, but Tampa still has better forwards up and down the roster, and their defense is a bit stronger than the Bruins so don’t expect the Bruins to pass them for the division crown this year.

The Bruins’ other closest opponent the Maple Leafs right now is a bit of a question mark team. Their additions of Kerfoot and Barrie give them a much-needed boost on both offense and defense, however, they lose Kadri and are still waiting for the shoe to drop on Mitch Marner who seems to want to get a huge payday. Berrie provides a nice offensive game to the Leafs defense and skates well, but with the loss of Zaitsev to Ottawa and the failure to address their back end this offseason, the Leafs defense is once again hit or miss. Expect the Bruins to take advantage of this as the Leafs will have to rely on offense (again) to carry them which will help the Bruins slip past them in the standings as the Leafs drop some important games down the stretch due to a weaker than average defense.

As far as the rest of the division goes, nobody knows. Buffalo, Ottawa, and Detriot are not in the same stratosphere as the Bruins right now, and while Florida has signed Bobvrosky, they still have many holes which won’t be enough to catch the Bruins, but maybe could sneak them into a wildcard spot. We will have to wait and see.

Metropolitan Division

The Metro is where things get dicey in the east. New Jersey went on a spending spree adding Wayne Simmonds and P.K Subban to go along with Taylor Hall and Travis Zajac. They buffed their depth with taking a special talent Jack Hughes with the first overall pick. Expect New Jersey to be right in the mix along with the Bruins as their offense just became more dynamic, and their defense became stronger with the addition of Subban. The Washington Capitals, as we know, have been the Bruins’ biggest kryptonite the past few seasons and will once again be in the mix for a top seed along with the Bruins. It is imperative the Bruins solve Holtby this year, which is a tall task for them, but it can go a long way with later down the line when the Bruins have to play for seeding. The New York Rangers also became a bigger threat after drafting Kappo Kako and sign Panarin. With Lundqvist still in the cage, the Rangers are no slouches to contend for a wildcard spot. Bruins have more depth and firepower than the Rangers but expect them to be right in the thick of things.

The rest of the division is a toss-up. In honesty, every single team in the Metro could make the playoffs this year, and the Bruins have separated themselves from half the division, they still have to keep two sets of eyes on it just to make sure no one is sneaking up behind them or they have an early playoff matchup with one of the teams.

It’s hard to exactly judge where the Bruins will stand towards the end of the season, but as of right now they are still a top 5 team in the east, but they need to make sure the Carlo and McAvoy contracts get done if they want to stay that way. Look for Boston to be right in the playoff mix by midseason again with basically the same core and goaltending duo.

Boston Bruins 2018-19 Schedule Breakdown

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Photo Credit: John Wilcox

By: Garrett Haydon | Follow me on Twitter @thesportsguy97

The Boston Bruins will get up close and personal with the Stanley Cup Champs as they will open the 2018-19 season in Washington to face the Capitals on October 3rd at 7:30 P.M. The Caps will hoist their first Stanley Cup banner in franchise history before puck drop. If that wasn’t enough the Bruins then will travel to Buffalo to take on the Sabres the next night for their home opener against potential top pick Rasmus Dahlin.

The Bruins will open their home slate on October 8th with the annual Columbus Day matinee against the Ottawa Senators at 1 P.M. The season-opening homestand will continue with games against the Edmonton Oilers and Detroit Red Wings.

The Bruins will go on three separate West Coast road trips in October, November, and February taking on the likes of the Colorado Avalanche and the Dallas Stars in November, the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks in October and the San Jose Sharks and Vegas Golden Knights in February. At the tail end of the season the Bruins will be away from home for seven of their final ten games of the season.

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The Bruins won’t just be going on the road next season, they’ll be hosting four consecutive home games four separate times during the year. The first such stretch will occur at the beginning of November when the Bruins will take on Dallas, Vancouver, Stanley Cup finalist Vegas and Toronto, which will be their first matchup against the Leafs since Game 7 of their first round series.

One of the biggest storylines at the end of last season was the arduous stretch of 21 games in 39 days from March 1st onward. Fortunately, the Bruins will catch a break in 2018-19 with just 18 games in the final 37 days of the season. Look for the team to be a little more rested going into postseason play next season if they do indeed make it there.

The Bruins bye week will begin January 20th, the week before the All-Star break. The B’s will return to action on the 29th when they host the Winnipeg Jets at 7 P.M.

Other schedule highlights:

First matchup against the Montreal Canadiens on October 27th at 7 P.M. in Boston

Annual Black Friday matchup (11/23) at 7:30 P.M. in Boston which will be against the Pittsburgh Penguins

First matchup against the Tampa Bay Lightning on December 6th in Tampa at 7:30 P.M.

First matchup against Hart Trophy Winner Taylor Hall as the B’s take on the New Jersey Devils on December 27th in Boston at 7 P.M.

The Winter Classic at Notre Dame Stadium against the Chicago Blackhawks on New Years’ Day at 1 P.M.

All-Star Weekend in San Jose starting January 25th

Super Bowl Sunday matinee (2/3) in Washington against the Capitals at 12:30 P.M.

Season Finale on April 6th in Boston against the Lightning at 12:30 P.M.

Full Schedule

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What’s The Best First-Round Matchup For The Boston Bruins?

PHOTO CREDITS: (news.hockeydraft.ca)

By: Max Mainville   |   Follow Me On Twitter @tkdmaxbjj

A few days ago, I made a poll on my Twitter account, (follow it for the latest news), asking Bruins fans which team they would rather see the Bruins play in the first round of the upcoming 2018 NHL Playoffs. The poll results did not come as a surprise, as the majority of fans wanted to see Boston/New Jersey, mainly feeling that the Bruins had a better chance at winning the seven-game series against the Devils.

At the moment of writing this article, the Florida Panthers are still in the mix for the Eastern Conference playoff race, as they are only three points behind the New Jersey Devils for the second wild-card position, with two games in hand. However, for simplicity’s sake, we will stick to the three main teams that the B’s could meet in the first round.

One more note before we dive into this, the thoughts below are of my own opinion, based on statistics. I would love to hear your personal opinions on the matter, but without further ado, here we go.

Toronto Maple Leafs 

The Toronto Maple Leafs come out as the clear favorite to be the team that gets to play Boston in Round One. As of March 29th at 7:00am CST, the Maple Leafs currently sit in the third Atlantic division spot, with a record of 46-24-7, good for 99 points. Toronto has been in this spot for an extended amount of time, as the top three teams in the Eastern Conference, happen to be in this one division.

Season Series:

First off, how have the Bruins done so far this season with the Leafs? Out of all three teams that we will cover, the Bruins have won the least amount of games against the Leafs than the other ones. In all four games of the season series, the Bruins went 1-2-1 against Toronto. The sole victory over the Ontario team came on February 3rd, a 4-1 win.

Biggest Strength:

Ever since the Leafs signed longtime Detroit Red Wings’ head coach, Mike Babcock, the youth movement has taken over. Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and William Nylander are the biggest names that headline the roster filled with players under 25 years of age. Mixed in with older veterans and a goaltender that can be solid on most nights, the Toronto Maple Leafs have a recipe for success to be a good team in the NHL for many years to come.

 

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PHOTO CREDITS: (ftw.usatoday.com)

Biggest Weakness:

One flaw that the Leafs seem to have, is the number of shots they allow in a game. The team currently ranks as the team who allows the fourth-most shots per game (33.9), while the Bruins allow the second-least amount of shots per game (29.2). This statistic highlights the weakness of the defensive core and the amount of reliance they place on their two goalies, Frederik Anderson and Curtis McElhinney.

Best Player:

As stated previously above, Toronto is loaded with talented forwards and two solid goalies, but without question, the best player on the Maple Leafs has to be 2016 1st overall draft pick, Auston Matthews. Even with multiple injuries during the course of the 2017-2018 season, Matthews has continued to produce points at an All-Star level. In 57 games, Matthews has 30-24-54 totals, along with a team-leading +21 rating. Matthews is able to create offense in the zone with the best of them and can be a threat on the ice at any given time. However, he will be going toe-to-toe with arguably the best two-way player in the National Hockey League, Patrice Bergeron.

New Jersey Devils

The New Jersey Devils hold the second wild-card spot with a 40-28-8 record, good for 88 points. Last night, the Philadelphia Flyers won in regulation over the Colorado Avalanche, jumping ahead of the Columbus Blue Jackets, who are now in the first wild-card position. New Jersey trails the Blue Jackets by a mere three points, with a single game in hand.

Season Series:

Boston has fared well against the New Jersey Devils this season, winning all three meetings, scoring 11 goals in total while allowing seven. The most recent affair between the two organizations was a 5-3 win for the Black and Gold on February 11th. The other two games were much closer, two 3-2 victories for the Bruins, including one in a shootout.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Steven Ryan | Getty Images)

Biggest Strength:

The New Jersey Devils really only have one blaring strength, forward Taylor Hall. Earlier this year, Hall went on an incredible point streak, 26 games in fact, before it came to an end against the Winnipeg Jets in March. Taylor was acquired by the Devils from the Edmonton Oilers, where he seemed to struggle even though he had reigning Art Ross winner, Connor McDavid, on his team. In only 71 games during the 2017-18 season, Hall has already surpassed his previous NHL point record of 80 points, with 85 points (33 goals, 52 assists). Taylor Hall has to be on top of his game and then some if he wants to carry the Devils past the first round.

Biggest Weakness:

For New Jersey, their biggest issue in the 2017-18 campaign is the lack of a consistent starting goaltender. Ever since they acquired Cory Schneider from the Vancouver Canucks back in 2013, he has been named the starting goalie. However this season, he has struggled, especially near the end of the season. According to The Bergen Record on March 23rd, Schneider was on a 0-9-1 run, making the chances of him starting another game down the stretch highly unlikely. The other goaltender for the Devils, 28-year-old Keith Kinkaid has 22 wins on the year, with a GAA of 2.85 and a save percentage of .911%. Neither goalie can seemingly be counted on when it matters the most, making for a questionable playoff run.

Best Player:

As mentioned already, Taylor Hall is the best player on the New Jersey Devils at this point. Hall has been able to carry the team to the number of wins that they happen to have at this moment in time, but the question is, will Taylor Hall be able to carry the team into the playoffs, when he has to play against Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Zdeno Chara, and the rest of the solid Bruins core.

 

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PHOTO CREDITS: (nhl.com)

Philadelphia Flyers

Our final team here on the analysis of the three teams that the Boston Bruins have the best chance of playing is the Philadelphia Flyers. In my opinion, the Flyers are the only team here that the Bruins have the least chance of playing. I cannot see the Devils passing either Columbus or Philadelphia in the wild-card race, but for the sake of my Twitter poll, we will still look at the Philadelphia Flyers.

Season Series:

Unlike the other two teams, the Bruins have not yet completed their season series with the Flyers, as the last game comes on April 1st. However, the previous two meetings between the teams have resulted in wins for the Black and Gold, with the most recent one coming earlier this month, on the eighth of March. The B’s snuck past with a 3-2 win courtesy of a Brad Marchand goal with 22 seconds left on the clock.

Biggest Strength:

The blaring strength for the Flyers this season is the same as the past few seasons – offense. Philadelphia has the third-highest point producer in the NHL, Claude Giroux who is tied with Penguins’ Evgeni Malkin. Giroux has tied his career-best for points, 93, and surpassed his personal record for most assists in a season, 66, while is also tied for the league-lead. The Flyers also happen to have the fourth-highest scoring blueliner, in Shayne Gostisbehere.

Biggest Weakness:

Seems like a continuing trend with these teams, as the main weakness of the Philadelphia Flyers would have to be their goaltending and defensive side of the puck. Between Michal Neuvirth and Petr Mrazek, the Flyers do not have a defined “starting goalie,” as the former holder of that title, Brian Elliott, has been on the injured reserve since February 10th. However, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer & Daily News, the team hopes to have him back between the pipes for the playoffs, something they badly need as Neuvirth and Mrazek has not been hot as of late.

 

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PHOTO CREDITS: (fastphillysports.com)

Best Player:

Just like the New Jersey Devils, the best player happens to be the highest scoring player. Claude Giroux has not only carried his team individually, but his league-leading assist numbers have brought in some scoring from other players on the team. He needs to be on top of his game and then some if they want to be a competitive team.

My Verdict:

At the end of all this, I personally want to play the Toronto Maple Leafs in Round One. Sure they may be the most difficult team to play against out of the teams listed, but we all know that those seven games will be entertaining and thrilling from beginning to end. I mean who doesn’t like an Original Six playoff round, right?

And there you have it! One thing, in order for the Boston Bruins to play New Jersey or even possibly Columbus or Philadelphia, they need to win tonight’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, which would position themselves into first place in the Atlantic Division as well as the Eastern Conference.