Quest for the Cup
The Bruins take on the Senators
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It’s the Bruins (44-28-10) vs the Senators (44-31-7) in first round NHL playoff action, and even though Ottawa won all four of their head to head matches, the odds makers and experts including the Hockey News, give the Bruins the slight edge. Boston has missed the playoffs the last two years, so in that sense, they are underdogs. Obviously, they are looking forward to taking on the Senators in a best of seven series beginning Wednesday night (NHL Network 7 p.m.) at the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa.
The Bruins face a tough challenge. Not only have they lost all four of their games against Ottawa, but right before the playoffs, they lost two of their top defensemen. Torey Krug is still injured with a lower body injury, and is day to day. He is the Bruins best offensive defenseman, and his loss could thus weaken their power play. Brandon Carlo went down the last game of the year with an upper body injury and is also day to day. The Bruins could be missing his strong defensive play, which will be especially missed by his defense partner, Bruins captain Zdeno Chara.
Because of the devastating injuries, some young bear cubs from Providence will have to learn how to play intense NHL playoff hockey on the fly. Don Sweeney, the Bruins general manager, announced Monday that Colin Miller and Charlie McAvoy will join the Bruins roster. Miller plays defense and will be covering for Carlo. The young rookie McAvoy, a Boston University Terrier until last month, only recently signed a three-year entry-level contract, and will be making his NHL debut in grand fashion.
The Bruins have their top goal scorer, Brad Marchand, returning from a two-game hibernation, we mean suspension for spearing Tampa Bay defenseman Jake Dotchin on April 4. Bruins fans are truly excited for Marchand’s return since he is their top goal scorer (39 goals) and a fan favorite. And, they have battle tested Tuuka Rask (2.23 GAA) in net, which should be a plus if he’s not too tired after playing 65 games during the regular season.
As for Ottawa, they have Erik Karlson, a player the Hockey News calls the “best defenseman in the world, capable of completely controlling a game.” They also have Mark Stone, a good two-way player who can score (22 goals), and Craig Anderson (2.28 GAA) in net, who HN calls a “game stealing goalie” and “an emotional leader.”
Coaching is a tight race. The Bruins were hot down the stretch under interim coach Bruce Cassidy after firing long time coach Claude Julien. And Ottawa improved this year under new coach Guy Boucher. Boucher summed up the series nicely in an interview with the Ottawa Citizen. “Our four lines have to be better than their four lines, and our six (defensemen) have to be better than their six (defensemen) and our goalie has to be better than their goalie. There’s going to be injuries, there’s going to be guys hurt and banged up, and there’s going to be guys playing way above what you expected and guys playing below what you expected,” said Boucher. Obviously, there is no room for error for either team. Let the quest for the cup begin!
We asked a few hockey fans at AHS what they thought about the series. Given the Bruins inconsistency this season and over the last three years, they were understandably cautious about the Bruins’ chances. Here is what they had to say:
“The defense must play well for the Bruins to win. The Bruins will win in seven games.” – Matt Swan ’19
“If Rask (doesn’t play well,) the Senators will win in six games.” Michael Boyle ’19
“The Bruins need to be consistent and play like they know they are in the playoffs.” – Allison McDonnell ’19
“The Bruins have to play with more intensity and more heart. Prediction – Ottawa will win in seven games.” – Mike Broomstein ’19.