Previewing the Bruins / Senators series
Just three points ended up separating these two squads in the standings. Ottawa eked out just enough wins to grab home-ice over their division rivals. The Senators struggled to finish off their year going 4-4-2 in their last ten games and only stayed four points ahead of the cut-off in the East. The Bruins, on the other hand, surged into the postseason. Boston finished the year on a high note, going 6-3-1 in their final ten, and avoiding a first round tussle with the Washington Capitals.
Ottawa owned the B’s in the season series seizing all four victories, but the Bruins play as of late, as well as injury concerns, make victory a lot less certain for the Sens.
Boston is by far the superior offensive team in this matchup. Aside from hits, the Bruins rank higher in every offensive category this season.
The Bruins have scored nearly thirty more goals, averaged three more shots per game, won nearly three and a half percent more faceoffs, and turned the puck over eighty fewer times. In addition, the Bruins power play clicked at nearly twenty-two percent this year. The Senators were near the bottom of the pack, converting on only seventeen percent of their extra-man opportunities.
The Bruins will be led by Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak. The first-line forwards have made their mark on the offensive leaderboards this year. Marchand and Pastrnak have each tallied thirty-four or more goals in the campaign. In fact, both players rank in the top fifteen in the goals scored column. Bergeron lags a bit behind, but still, put up a fifty-three-point year.
What the Senators lack in goal scoring, they make up in the physical department. Ottawa ranks fourth in the entire NHL in hits, and the squad will need to use that physicality to get to the net and score goals in the dirty areas around the net. Erik Karlsson is the team’s leading scorer with seventy-one points on the year. The 26-year-old blue liner will press the play for the Sens, and will surely make some magic happen in the offensive end. Mike Hoffman, Kyle Turris, and Mark Stone will be leaned on heavily to keep this one close, but the Sens will need to find scoring from each line to keep up with this red-hot Bruins offense.
The defensive side of this matchup will be a lot more even. The Bruins conceded one fewer goal this year than their Canadian rivals, and they also racked up nearly one-hundred more takeaways as well. Boston’s blue-liners will be looking to build off their great results throughout the postseason.
Torrey Krug and Zdeno Chara will force the Sens forwards to make some bad passes, and based on Ottawa’s turnover numbers, the Bruins might end up keeping Ottawa out of the attacking end for a goof portion of this series. Boston will also hold a great advantage on the kill. The Bruins finished first in penalty kill percentage, and the Senators anemic power play might have a lot of trouble getting things going against Tuuka Rask.
The Senators managed to get in front of a lot of shots this year finishing with the third best-blocked shot total. Erik Karlsson leads the team with two-hundred and one blocks on the year. Ceci and Phaneuf rank close behind with around fifty fewer blocks. This group will not shy away from any of Chara’s blasts from the point, and perhaps one of these blocks might just save a game for the Sens.
Ottawa, despite being outclassed in the special team’s department, has had a great year defensively. Like Boston, this club has given their goalie a bunch of help, and it has shown on the leaderboards. Ottawa’s defense will have a monumental task at hand, but their group should be able to slow down the Bruins forwards if only a little.
This matchup in net is going to be a toss-up. Both goalies excel in different areas of play, and whichever one gets hot first might just be the victor when all is said and done.
Boston has a former Stanley Cup winner in net. Rask won thirty-seven contests this year. He posted a .915 save percentage, and a goals allowed average of 2.23. Rask has been here before, and his playoff experience is going to be valuable for his club. If Boston can advance, Rask might just give his team a shot at reaching the Cup final.
Anderson doesn’t have quite the pedigree between the pipes. The 35-year-old has only seen four playoff campaigns and has yet to see any action beyond the second round. He has won twenty-five games this season and posts top ten numbers in both save percentage (.926), and goals allowed average (2.28.) Andersen might have one more cinderella run left in his career, perhaps this might be the year.
Boston Wins If: The Offense Keeps Clicking; They Win the Special Teams Battle
Ottawa Wins If: The Defense Outlasts the Bruins attack
This will be a closer matchup than the stats indicate, and the Sens might have a shot to walk out of this one victorious. However, playoff experience will factor in largely, and the Bruins have what it takes to advance. Bruins in 6.