Bruins 2019 Playoff Preview


Well, the slate is set and the 2019 Boston Bruins have a hot date this week, Thursday night against a fellow original six member, the Toronto Maple Leafs.  The Bruins certainly earned their playoff spot this year being tied in second place in total points in the NHL at 107, but the board is now wiped clean as the Stanley Cup Playoffs take center stage.  Let’s take a look at how the Bruins will matchup with their first round opponent, and their potential road to The Cup.

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The Bruins finished with a 3-1 record against the Maple Leafs throughout the regular season, which is one fact that can make fans feel at ease.  However, as stated the Stanley Cup Playoffs seem to help players take their game to a level that they did not know existed.  The Bruins and the Maple Leafs have had some colossal playoff battles over the last few years, including the storybook finish in 2013 when the Bruins came back from a 4-1 deficit to go on to beat Toronto in overtime.  Bruins fans sat in awe as we watched thousands of fans in Toronto watching the game on a big screen in disbelief.  2019 will surely offer yet another exciting chapter between these two historic franchises.  Let’s hope that some magic from the 2013 team is still present in the TD Garden. 

The Toronto Maple Leafs have a very exciting lineup with young gunner Auston Matthews and veteran John Tavares.  Tavares, who signed a major deal with Toronto, was certainly on the Bruins’ radar in free agency but they failed to be the highest bidder.  Tavares had a solid first season with Toronto finishing with 47 goals and 88 points.  He also jumped ship from the Islanders for a big pay day and a better chance to win the cup.  His former team has also locked in a spot for the playoffs.  Auston Matthews continues to dominate the headlines in Canada and across the NHL as he tallied an impressive 73 points but finished with a plus/minus at -9.

Shop for official Boston Bruins team fan gear and authentic collectibles at Toronto finished this season in twentieth place in Goals Against Average (GAA) at 3.04, while the Bruins finished in third at a 2.59 GAA.  Toronto did edge out the Bruins in Goals For Average, so this series may turn into a battle of offense vs defense.  The Bruins should be confident in this battle when their offense is clicking.  With the Bruins’ first line, which is arguably the best line in hockey, the offense can be somewhat of a flurry.  Complimentary pieces on lines two through four will be essential to the Bruins beating Toronto and then making a deep run.  Jake DeBrusk, who had a slow start to the season, finished extremely strong in the second half of the year finishing with 27 goals.  The Bruins will need to continue to see his efforts lighting the lamp for the Bruins to succeed.

If the Bruins are to advance through the first round it is likely that they will face the Tampa Bay Lightning.  The Bruins dropped their regular season finale to Tampa Bay on Saturday as they failed to hold on to a lead and potentially let Tampa Bay get in their heads.  If the Bruins do move on to this series, I predict that it will come down to goaltending.  Will this finally be the year that Rask can prove himself as a goaltender that can go the distance?  

With the consistent play of Jaroslav Halak, Rask has been managed correctly this year.  He has no excuse of being overworked this year.  The Bruins have shown in their last two meetings with the Lightning that they can skate with them for periods of time.  Rask will need to steal at least two wins for the Bruins if they are going to win this hypothetical series.  Tampa Bay is too strong in all areas of the game to not rely on out-of-this world goaltending.

If the Bruins are to outlast Tampa Bay, then I think all bets are off.  The Western Conference has a strong number of potential opponents for the Bruins to face in a final if they do make it.  However, the Lightning will be the team to beat in this tournament.  They have dominated the NHL from start to finish and etched their place in the history books as they tied for the league record in wins during the regular season.  

The Stanley Cup Playoffs can last for a stretch of up to two months.  This is a very long time for a team to play consistent, error-free hockey.  The Bruins went on a run like this from the New Year through the end of February.  Is it possible for a team to do this twice in a year?  Well, it is going to have to happen for fans to see Zdeno Chara hoist the cup over his head for a second time in a Bruins sweater.

The 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs have promise to be an interesting run for the Bruins.  Let’s hope that this team can find the right combinations at the right time to take on the NHL’s best for the last leg of the season.

Follow Marc on Twitter @MRobes12

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Boston Sports Syndicate: Bruins 2019 Playoff Preview
Bruins 2019 Playoff Preview
Boston Sports Syndicate
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