By Scott Jarosz ’21
With March Madness now over, it is the National Hockey League’s turn to take center stage with the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Featuring eight teams each from the Western Conference and the Eastern Conference for a total of 16 teams, this year’s playoffs are sure to provide excitement once again. Last year’s champion, the Washington Capitals, are yet again in the playoff field and looking to take home the Stanley Cup for the second year in a row. However, this season, the Capitals have some serious contenders to prevent them from winning a repeat title. One such team looking to take home the hardware is the Boston Bruins, the second-seed in the Eastern Conference. The Bruins are the team that will win the Stanley Cup this year.
At second place in the Atlantic Division behind the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Bruins boast a regular season record of 49-24-9 and a total of 107 points. The Bruins’ record shows that they have been a powerhouse of a hockey team throughout the season, and head coach Bruce Cassidy feels confident that his team will maintain its success through the playoffs. According to 98.5 the Sports Hub, Cassidy said, “I like our team. We play hard. We were one of the better teams from start to finish I think in the National Hockey League, specifically the second half of the year. We’ve played well at the right times. We’ve earned our way…Guys should be excited to play.” Cassidy’s confidence in his team is not unfounded.
With one of the best lines in the NHL and two top-notch goaltenders, the Boston Bruins have all of the keys they need for a successful playoff run. The Bergeron-Marchand-Pastrnak line is a force that not many teams are able to reckon with. Marchand put up his first 100-point season; he is one of the six players across the league to reach at least 100 points and he tied in points with NHL-great Sidney Crosby. Pastrnak notched 38 goals and finished out the season with 81 points. Patrice Bergeron, a four-time Frank J. Selke Award winner and arguably the best defensive-forward the league has seen, claimed an impressive 32 goals and 79 points. Aside from the Bruins top line, center David Krejci is also going to be a key factor in the Bruins having a successful playoff run. Krejci is having one of his best seasons in a while this year and matched his career-high 73 points.
However, despite the individual player success on the team, one other reason why the Bruins will dominate the playoffs this year is because they can offer depth throughout their whole team. Every line that Cassidy puts out on the ice has a purpose, and all four lines have each seen success and contributed to the team, whether that be goal-scoring, keeping the pressure on the other team, or just playing physical.
And, while the Bruins have had their share of hardships this season (injuries—particularly those sustained by their defensemen), they have proved time and time again that they can come out on top, and a lot of that has to do with their coaching.
In addition to the tremendous success that the Bruins have had throughout the regular season, they have also proven to match up very well with the Toronto Maple Leafs in the past. For example in the 2012-13 NHL season, the Bruins beat the Maple Leafs 4 games to 3 in the first round of playoffs, which featured a game 7 where the Bruins came back from a 4-1 deficit to win not only the game, but the series as well. The Bruins and Maple Leafs met in the first round of the 2017-18 playoffs, and the Bruins took that series 4 games to 3 yet again.
If the Bruins can stay healthy and get by the Maple Leafs, they are very capable of making a run and taking home this year’s Stanley Cup trophy.