Bruins Take On Ottawa In First Round Of Stanley Cup Playoffs
The transition from winter to spring signifies that warmer weather is on the way, it ushers in a new season of Sox ball and as the month of April rolls along, it also means that the Boston Bruins will begin what hopes to be a long and exciting push in the NHL Playoffs as they chase Lord Stanley’s Cup.
The Bruins clinched a playoff spot late last week and had to wait as the last few games of the regular season played out to finalize the seeding. Both Boston and the Toronto Maple Leafs finished with 95 points in the Atlantic Division. The Bs were able to break the tie and clinch the third seed in their division having 42 regulation/overtime wins this season, whereas the Leafs only recorded 39 regulation/overtime wins and received the second wild-card spot.
Boston’s reward for wrapping up the third seed in the Atlantic Division: A first-round matchup against the Ottawa Senators. The Sens were able to grab the second seed in the division finishing only three points ahead of the Bruins at the end of the season. To some, winning that tie-breaker might not sound like that big of a deal, as Boston would have still been in the playoffs even if it didn’t win the tie-breaker The Bruins got the third seed, however, means they get to stay in the Atlantic Division portion of the bracket. Under the new NHL Playoffs format, the top three seeds in each division are guaranteed to play each other in the first and second rounds of the bracket, along with one of the two wild-card teams. Because Toronto lost the tie-breaker, the Leafs now go the Metropolitan Division portion of the bracket and have a first-round series against the mighty Washington Capitals. Boston has a much easier road to the Stanley Cup Finals and won’t have to play the Washington Capitals, Pittsburgh Penguins or Columbus Blue Jackets (the top three teams in the Eastern Conference) until the Eastern Conference Finals if those teams should make it. Quite the dodged bullet all due to a simple tie-breaker.
This is the first time that these two teams are meeting in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t familiar with each other. After all, they both reside in the same division after the NHL’s division realignment and on paper it would appear the Senators have the advantage.
Ottawa beat Boston all four times in the regular season this year, and two of the losses came in the last few weeks of the season. Both teams have somewhat new coaches behind the bench. Ottawa’s Guy Boucher is in his first season at the helm and Bruce Cassidy lead the Bruins to an 18-8-1 record and a playoff berth after Claude Julien was let go back in early February.
Boston has a case of the injury bug and it could play a key part in this series. The Bruins will likely be without the services of defensemen Torey Krug and Brandon Carlo for a while – it has already been announced that neither will start the series – and as a result the Bruins signed rookie Charile McAvoy. This should be a name Boston hockey fans recognize since the former first-round pick played two years of college hockey at Boston University.
Though Ottawa got the better of Boston all season long this year, the playoffs are a completely different animal and anything can happen. The Bruins have a ton more postseason experience than the Senators do and will look to leaders like Brad Marchand and Tuukka Rask to produce and produce often to give them the edge. Don’t be surprised if this series goes the distance to seven games.
The first game of the series will be on Wednesday, April 12 at 7 p.m. in Ottawa with games airing on NHL Network, NBC, NBCSN, CNBC, and USA. The entire series schedule can be seen below:
Wednesday, April 12, 7pm: Bruins @ Senators
Saturday, April 15, 3pm: Bruins @ Senators
Monday, April 17, 7pm: Senators @ Bruins
Wednesday, April 19, 7:30pm: Senators @ Bruins
*Friday, April 21, TBD: Bruins @ Senators
*Sunday, April 23, TBD: Senators @ Bruins
*Wednesday, April 26, TBD: Bruins @ Senators