Possible Success for Bruins’ Postseason
by Chris Karlson on Friday, April 25th, 2014
Through three games of the Bruins opening round series, one thing is clear: winning the Presidents’ Trophy for the best record in the NHL does not guarantee anything in the playoffs. As we learned two years ago, running into a hot goaltender and missing a key player or two can swing a series in either direction. Playoff hockey is so unpredictable because hockey depends so much on the way the puck bounces, and on which team is able to capitalize on these bounces.
As I watched the Stanley Cup Final last year, I found it remarkable how lucky the Blackhawks seemed to be, getting every bounce and finding the net in the weirdest ways, especially on the clinching goal in Game 6. For the Bruins to make a long run again and contend for the Cup, there will be plenty of luck involved, but having the best goaltender in the league should help some. Tuukka Rask has been nothing short of dominant this regular season and after the first three games, it would appear nothing will change in the real season. He has looked nearly unbeatable thus far, and without an unbelievable effort and play by Pavel Datsyuk and a funny bounce, we’re looking at two straight shutouts off an offensive powerhouse with the likes of Datsyuk, Franzén, Tatar, Nyquist, and Alfredsson.
The Bruins, however, can hold their own against the mighty Red Wings in the offensive zone, as they routinely control the puck for long periods. The Bruins are masters of puck control, with big bodies Milan Lucic and Jarome Iginla unmovable down low, as well as the skilled Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Reilly Smith line able to challenge them for the best puck-controlling line in hockey. The Bruins just never stop coming at the opponent, able to roll line after line and deliver punch after punch, as many teams found out this year, especially on their 12-game win streak in March. When they’re firing on all cylinders, there isn’t much opponents can do to stop them. As frustrating as Game 1 was to watch, Games 2 and 3 were thoroughly enjoyable; the Bruins dominated the flow of play, out-manning and outclassing the shorthanded Wings, who continue to miss captain Henrik Zetterberg to an injury. They once again brought their physical, hard-nosed game, laying many Red Wings out and never failing to produce a scrum after the whistle. If the series continues like this, the Bruins should catch a relatively easy W, despite Detroit playing well in front of its hometown crowd.
A series win in round one would likely set up another meeting with the hated Habs, the Montreal Canadiens, which should be a fiery, intense series that down to the wire goes. The Bruins pull that one out though, behind their advantage on defense and in goal, which may very well set up another meeting with the Pittsburgh Penguins, whom the Bruins held to 2 goals, in a best of 7 series. Another performance like that and the Bruins could be looking at a 3rd Stanley Cup Final appearance in 4 years. Let’s hope they can take care of business in Round 1, and find themselves playing for the best trophy in sports.
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