The Bruins Survive Round One


The TD Garden was rocking last night as the Boston Bruins skated to a 5-1 Game 7 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs.  From the moment that Super Bowl MVP Julian Edelman raised the black and gold over his head the Leafs “turned to mulch” as was stated so eloquently by Bruins play-by-play caller Jack Edwards.  Although the Leafs brought stints of offensive flurry, the Bruins defense and goaltender Tuukka Rask were able to protect the net and hold strong.

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What struck as most impressive tonight was that players from all walks of life contributed.  The fourth line was phenomenal and, as we all know, to win The Cup a team needs four lines firing on all cylinders.  The 2011 Bruins had four stable lines that could all contribute in their own unique ways.  The 2018-19 Bruins are going to need the exact same effort.  Bruce Cassidy should be encouraged from his fourth line efforts heading into the second round.

Since Toronto will be a quiet city tomorrow (especially in Maple Leaf square), and the people’s dainty white handkerchiefs will be collected from the city square, the Bruins must prepare for the opponents ahead.  We have all followed this first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and have noted some shocking outcomes.  From the East, the Tampa Bay Lightning were swept by the Bruins’ next opponents the Columbus Blue Jackets.  The Pittsburgh Penguins and Sidney Crosby were eliminated quickly and the Washington Capitals are headed to an unexpected Game 7 against the Carolina Hurricanes tonight.  While in the Western Conference the top seeded Calgary Flames also fell to the eight seed.

Shop for Boston Bruins jerseys at NHLShop.caThe Bruins have to be happy with the efforts from goaltender Tuukka Rask, although he made several moments tense in the Toronto series he never let a game away from his own doing.  Rask was capable of holding on and making some big saves in Game 7.  There were certainly several spans of the game where he was getting little support from his teammates.  Rask will ultimately have to carry the team from here on out on the back end as Jaroslav Halak saw no action in the first round.  Cassidy would have to witness an extraordinary collapse at this point to pull out Rask in favor of Halak.

The fourth line is going to be the reason as to whether the Bruins make a deep run this season or not.  All championship teams have faith in all four lines that they roll out and should not fear using their fourth unit.  Sean Kuraly, who is still battling back from injury, played a tremendous game as the fourth line center and led the spirit of what a fourth line should aspire to.  Hard-nosed hockey will lead to opportunities, and that is exactly what the Bruins will need in the later rounds of the playoffs.

Third line center and local boy Charlie Coyle also played a defining role in the win last night.  Coyle has come on strong and is beginning to prove why General Manager Don Sweeney pulled the trigger on acquiring him.

Supporting players will be essential to the success of this team down the home stretch.  This cannot be stated enough, however, it is important to stress that the Bruins still have some of the best forwards in hockey and they still seem to have some gas in the tank.  Patrice Bergeron continues to prove himself as the rightful winner of the Selke Award as the best defensive forward.  David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand continue to pester opposing defensemen with their creative offensive flurries.  The Bruins will still need to rely on these guys to act as leader in the locker room and on the scoreboard to make a deep run.

As far as the second round opponent, The Columbus Blue Jackets (CBJ) will be an interesting test for the Bruins.  The Blue Jackets crushed the first place Tampa Bay Lightning and swept the series four games to none.  Columbus finished the regular season as one of the hottest teams in the league.  On paper the Lightning were by far the scariest team in the Eastern Conference that the Bruins were set to face, however, with their early exit, the Bruins are now the highest seed left in the conference.  This also guarantees the Bruins home-ice throughout the playoffs as long as they are contenders.  Bruins fans can hope that Columbus has had enough time off to help cool off their jets as they head to Boston for Game 1 on Thursday night.

The Bruins need and will spend their time focusing on Columbus, the next team in their path within a quest for The Cup.  Many have argued that the elimination of the Lightning have led to a clear path for the Bruins to win it all.  This is simply not the case.  The Stanley Cup Playoffs are an experience unlike any tournament in professional sports.  We just witnessed a round one that brought both number one seeds to their knees in defeat.  We don’t even see the favorites in Game of Thrones die off in episode one...The Stanley Cup Playoffs will remain unchartered waters for this 2018-19 Boston Bruins roster, however, they have now proven that they can hang in for a tough round of seven games and come up victorious.  This is the first sign that a team has the chance to be the final act to an NHL season and presented with Lord Stanley’s Cup.

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Boston Sports Syndicate: The Bruins Survive Round One
The Bruins Survive Round One
Boston Sports Syndicate
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