The second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs gets underway Saturday night with New York Islanders vs Boston Bruins. This is the third time the Islanders and Bruins are meeting in the playoffs and will be the first since time 1983. The Islanders defeated the Bruins in their previous two meetings in the playoffs. But that was during the Islanders dynasty of four Stanley Cups. So if the Islanders find a way to win this series, history says the Islanders will win the Stanley Cup. But this is a different time and this is a different Bruins team. And while the Islanders gave the Bruins trouble in the regular season, as we have seen in the playoffs, you can throw the regular season records out the window.
The Bruins are one of the hottest teams entering the second round after their five-game series win over the Washington Capitals. While the Islanders needed six games to defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins. Boston is in the second round for the fourth straight season; New York is in the second round for the third straight season. This series will not be for the fainted heart. Expect this to be a physical series between both clubs with special teams and goaltending playing a major factor in this one. Not to mention can the Islanders defence come up big against another high-powered offence? Time to break down the New York Islanders vs Boston Bruins matchup.
New York Islanders vs Boston Bruins
Bruins Finally Have Depth Scoring
For years the “Perfection Line” of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak carried the Bruins into and through the playoffs. The opposition knew if they stopped the Bruins’ top line, they would win games because of the lack of depth scoring. However, entering these playoffs the Bruins have three lines that score. Not to mention a second line that can match the production of the top line. And yes the top line for the Bruins accounted for 35 percent of the Bruins goals in the first round, it was the second line of David Krejci, Taylor Hall, and Craig Smith.
The Bruins acquired Taylor Hall at the trade deadline and he has been a perfect fit for the Bruins. He has given Krejci a scoring winger he so desperately needed. Plus Hall takes up so much attention that teams forget about Smith, who can also beat you. Not to mention Hall does not have to be the guy anymore, so he is free to play his game. So the Islanders need to be wary of that line along with the “Perfection Line.”
However, the addition of Hall has allowed Jake DeBrusk to settle into a third-line role where he producing. DeBrusk did not have the greatest regular season but is sure coming up big for the Bruins in the playoffs. So far in five games, DeBrusk has three points (two goals and one assist). Clearly, the Bruins have found something putting DeBrusk with Nick Ritchie and Charlie Coyle. The Bruins have a solid top-nine that the Islanders will have to try to match in this seven-game series.
Islanders Stifilling Defence
The Islanders’ defence will have to come up large again against the Bruins offence. In the first-round series against Pittsburgh, they held Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel to just two points. And while Evgeni Malkin and Jeff Carter each had five points, the Penguins’ leading scorer in the first round was Kris Letang with six points. The Islanders were able to frustrate and smother the top players for the Penguins. Barry Trotz will have his team try to do the same thing against the Bruins. However, the top line for Boston already has 13 points. But it will not be as easy as we previously mentioned as the Bruins have more depth on offence than the Penguins did.
The Bruins were able to win the final three games of the regular-season series against the Islanders. And funny enough that was after they acquired Hall. So the Islanders need to figure out a way to stop him and that top line. Make the bottom six players beat you. And with the way the Islanders play defence, the Bruins need to be wary because the Islanders are able to keep games close as they did against Pittsburgh. The Islanders only need a chance here and there and the puck will be in the back of Boston’s net.
It will be interesting to see which line Trotz matches Ryan Pulock and Adam Pelech up against. They did such a good job against Crosby you got to think they will play against the Bruins’ top line. Just like against the Penguins, the Islanders will rely on playing defence first. This is not a problem as the Islanders have built a team for the playoffs and they have been playing that style all season.
Everything Comes Down To Goaltending
And while the Islanders were able to score goals against Pittsburgh they will be harder to come by against the Bruins. Tuukka Rask is not Tristan Jarry. In fact, he is a whole lot better. Ever since Rask returned from the lineup he has been a man possessed. For some reason Rask does not get the credit he deserves in Boston. He brought the team to two Stanley Cup Finals. But without him between the pipes, do the Bruins get there in 2013 and 2019? Not to mention after last season Rask has something to prove. Against Washington, he was very solid outside a bad bounce in overtime in Game 1. So the Islanders offence, which has struggled at times during the season will have their hands full. The goals the Islanders scored in round one may not be there in round 2.
For the Islanders, it appears Ilya Sorokin will get the nod for Game 1 again. Sorokin is 4-0 this playoffs and after two shaky outings by Semyon Varlamov, Trotz had no choice but to go to the rookie. Sorokin has been calm and cool under pressure but will have to raise his game against the Bruins considering who is on the other end of the rink. But the players believe in Sorokin and are playing extra hard for him. They know they are never out of any game when Sorokin is in between the pipes. But the Bruins definitely have the edge at the goalie position.
Both teams are so similar. The Bruins hold the edge offensively and in between the pipes. The Islanders are better defensively. But the Bruins defence has gotten better throughout the season and can match the Islanders. The Islanders will need to stay out of the box despite having one of the better penalty kills in the playoffs. But the Bruins just have too many weapons which will cause trouble. If the Islanders play their style and keep the games close as they did against Pittsburgh, they will have a chance in this series. The Bruins are favoured in this series to go to the Semi-Finals. However, that is when the Islanders play their best hockey. But it feels like the Bruins have a team that can go far in the playoffs. Considering these two teams do not like each other, look for this one to be physical and nasty which feeds right into how both teams like to play.
Prediction: Bruins in 7
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