The Boston Bruins have made the playoffs and once again they will be facing the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Maple Leafs appeared to have the better team on paper but as the year went on the Bruins proved to be superior. But now it’s playoff time so how might this first game look?
The Bruins will most likely start Rask between the pipes but Cassidy has made it clear that if Rask doesn’t perform like he should we could see Halak. Rask has performed well in the playoffs for the Bruins in the last couple of years especially in the TD Garden. Rask has a .928 save percentage which is solid considering many claim he’s been a negative factor in the playoffs for them. Rask is going to have to be on his game for this offensive powerhouse that is the Maple Leafs. We’ve seen in practice that it appears the Bergeron “perfection” line is going to stay put. With insane numbers all year and the ability to carry the offensive load this line should be ready to go against Taveras and his line. That should be a fun matchup to watch but the real fight begins with the second and third lines for these teams.
Krejci has looked like his old 2011-2013 self as he ramps up with a new stud on his left side in Jake Debrusk. Debrusk and Krejci have been great this year adding secondary scoring to the team. With Karson Kuhlmanonly playing 11 games this year it will be Kuhlman’s biggest test but so far he has looked like a productive winger when they’ve needed him. Kuhlman plays to his strengths and should have an interesting series against the speedy Maple Leafs. He will have to be responsible on the defensive end but also be able to help in the rush with Krejci and Debrusk.
The third line is the reason why Bruce Cassidy may just throw the line away and try again. With Charlie Coyle, Danton Heinen and Marcus Johansson, this line could come up huge in the game with the depth and offense that they bring. They could also collapse since they have only spent 11 minutes on the ice together. Cassidy loves to switch his lines up and with the odd man out being David Backes we could see him enter in game 2 but with Backes aging, he won’t be able to keep up the speedy Leafs.
Where the Bruins should beat the Leafs if on the defensive end. The Leafs defense has been spotty at best this year but still could show up in the playoffs. The big loss for the B’s however, is losing Kevan Miller. Miller brings a physical yet responsible approach the defense and either Clifton or Kampfer will step in for him.
It should be a fun series and an exciting first game for these division rivals on Thursday night. Keep your eyes on both of these teams because if it’s not Tampa coming out of the east then it could be one of these.
Photo: Sporting News