First glance: potential Bruins playoffs matchups
The start of the 2013 NHL playoffs is upon us with four teams battling for the last three playoff spots in the Eastern Conference and six teams going after the final three playoff spots in the Western Conference.
This is going to be one crazy final week of action, with almost every game having some sort of implications on the final standings.
Boston’s ideal scenario ironically would be to finish second in the division (behind the Montreal Canadiens) and fourth in the Eastern Conference, because they would then likely be playing the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round. But with the way Montreal is struggling, plus the fact that the Bruins have a game in hand over the Canadiens, it’s more likely that the Canadiens will finish fourth in the conference and the Bruins, as the division winners, would finish second.
When it comes to how the Bruins match up on the ice, the Bruins defensively are currently ranked third in goals against with the top penalty kill in the league. Tuukka Rask has established himself as a quality No. 1 goalie and Anton Khudobin has been one of the best backups in the NHL.
The concern for the Bruins is their goal scoring. This team has scored more than two goals just once in its last five games, and a few top-six forwards, including Milan Lucic with two goals in his last 29 games, have failed to be productive offensively over the last month. In the last 10 games, they are 4-5-1.
If the Bruins are the division champions, these are the probable match-ups:
In this potential match-up, it will come down to who has the better goalie because neither team scores well. The Senators are backed by their league leading goaltender, Craig Anderson. He has an impressive 1.71 GAA and .941 save percentage his 22 starts this season. Due to the Bruins current scoring drought, this could be a difficult match-up for the Bruins, but the Senators are currently 27th in goals per game, where the Bruins are 13th, so the Senators would have the same problems with Rask as the Bruins would with Anderson.
It will also be a battle of the penalty kills. Both teams have bottom of the league power play units and league-leading penalty kills, so capitalizing on those opportunities can decide a game. Ottawa is one of the most penalized teams in the league and that can end their season with an early playoff exit.
New York Rangers
If the Bruins finish second in the East, their most likely first-round opponent is the New York Rangers, which would be a terrible match-up for Boston. The Blueshirts have won five of their last seven games against the Bruins and have six wins in seven games at TD Garden since the start of the 2010-11 season.
The Rangers are the least penalized team in the league, so the B’s dismal power play might not see much action in this match-up. Should the power play get the opportunity, however, the Rangers penalty kill might not be good enough to stop them. The expectations of the Ranger’s talented offense could prove to be the downfall of this team.
The Rangers are just behind the B’s in both goals per game and goals against per game. The talented Henrik Lundqvist proving once again that he is the most recent Vezina Trophy winner for a reason.
We are not considering the Maple Leafs and the Islanders because the Maple Leafs are currently three points up on the Rangers and the Senators with three games left to play and the Islanders are on a hot streak with two games left to play.