Whereas Gary Bettman might not think there is something wrong With the present playoff system (he is flawed!), it is fairly clear that this setup has robbed March and the primary half of April of most of their drama. Mainly we’re prepared to see if a workforce of whistling penguins (oops!) can maintain his lunch lengthy sufficient to carry off a very unimpressive Panthers workforce out of the wild-card spots, and a few seeding hassle between the Devils and Canes and the Pacific Division. To be truthful, if the NHL have been utilizing a conference-based system, it would not look a lot completely different than it does now, it could simply really feel higher and make extra sense.
No matter. Hockey has all the time been targeted on its playoffs, and we might be too. And the primary query this spring might be: can anybody derail the unholy power that has been the Boston Bruins? Some wish to concentrate on the wobble the Bs had on the finish of February once they misplaced three of 4, and have since gone… 15-3-0. So yeah, that wasn’t actually a factor.
The Bruins must stay fairly scorching to match the single-season document of 132 factors (1976-1977 Habs), and it is potential they will shut down the Jets to relaxation up and fall wanting the Lighting’s 128 factors of 4 years in the past. However it stays that no workforce will enter the NHL playoffs as a heavy favourite and feeling like Godzilla roaming the sphere from that Lightning workforce just like the Bruins will three weeks from now.
With that stated, that Lightning workforce proceeded to drag off one of many largest full-body dry pulls in playoff historical past when Columbus knocked them out of the primary spherical. It is hockey, nothing is definite and the top is all the time close to. So what may take down the Bruins?
William Regal would say: “The person within the masks”
(I miss my weekly Regal-Excalibur trades)
When the Lightning spat a planet-sized furball on the Jackets in 2019, the primary purpose was Andrei Vasilevskiy posting an .856 save share. Nothing sinks an excellent workforce sooner than a goalkeeper who turns into cease making sense-was David Byrne on web.
Linus Ullmark will in all probability take dwelling the Vezina Trophy, That is proper. He additionally has two video games of playoff expertise, which got here final 12 months, and it did not go effectively for him. Ullmark would not be the primary goalie to comply with up his dominant first season with one thing of a playoff whiff. Particularly if the Bruins draw the Islanders within the first spherical, who will sport a possible Vezina runner-up in Ilya Sorokin and the margins may very well be slim.
Even when Ullmark falters, the Bruins have Jeremy Swayman in reserve, who has began 30 video games and has a .920 save share. Swayman performed 5 of the Bruins’ seven first-round video games final season towards Carolina and was principally okay with a .911 slash. They’re as protected as they are often towards the janitor’s hiccups, however when issues go flawed, it is all the time the primary level of investigation within the post-mortem.
The skinny little blue line
We’re already stretching right here, which is a sign of how solidly constructed the Bruins are. The success of the Bs rests on the quickness and dexterity of their blue-liners, since they’ll sport 4 or 5 d-men who can actually transfer and are good on the puck for the reason that acquisition of Dmitry Orlov. Most groups can have two, however the Bruins can have one participant on the ice for the 60 minutes that they’ll skate and get the workforce out of hassle.
Nonetheless, it isn’t the most important workforce on the market. So if the Bruins have been up towards, say, a reasonably conservative workforce that was all too joyful to repeatedly throw the puck into the Bruins zone after which ram the Bruins protection towards the backboards flip after flip for a whole sequence (good day , Islanders), which may get tedious after 5 – 6 video games. If nothing else, that will maintain the margins in video games fairly tight, and when that occurs, HOCKEY! you may hand the video games over to the underdog for no good purpose.
Nonetheless, it is laborious to see this method working towards a workforce as deep on protection because the Bruins are. Possibly an opponent could make Charlie McAvoy really feel upset or hesitant. Possibly even Hampus Lindholm. However the Bs nonetheless sport Matt Grzelcyk and Orlov. They may virtually all the time be capable to evade the third and fourth row gamers they’re up towards and beat them on the ice to open issues up for forwards. This will work for components of the video games, however not as seemingly for a whole sequence.
Statler and Waldorf are their #1 and #2 facilities
Once more, that is one other actual stretch given how good Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci have been this season. Boston has backed up Bergeron’s minutes a bit this season, he is averaging 11:35 of even time as a substitute of getting topped at the least 12 minutes per recreation over the earlier 12 seasons (he is been a bit!). Krejci’s utilization can also be a contact down for many of his profession, although he is averaging extra time with even power than Bergeron, however he would not kill penalties anymore.
However hey, they’re 37 and 36 respectively, and 4 rounds and two months of playoff video games generally is a lot for a lot youthful gamers. Each guys are confirmed playoff gamers, Krejci has by some means managed to guide the playoffs by scoring twice in his profession with out profitable a Conn Smythe Trophy. It was 4 years in the past that they have been the highest two facilities on one other Bruins workforce that reached Sport 7 of the Finals. However 4 years will be a very long time in hockey, and these outdated bones should take care of some mixture of Stamkos-Level, Matthews-Tavares/O’Reilly to even get out of the division, after which the Rangers’ Zibenajad-Trocheck, or Hughes-Hischier, or Aho-Staal of Carolina. You do not simply stroll out of the Jap Convention this 12 months.
That is to not say Bergeron and Krejci cannot deal with it, and there is no higher supporting solid. However you would be hard-pressed to seek out one other workforce with its high two facilities with that a lot mileage on the odometers all the way in which.
Even this weak case may simply be dismissed contemplating that the Bs may draw the Penguins or Panthers within the first spherical, every of whom would find it irresistible. That would depart what’s left of whoever comes out of one other demise match between Lightning and Leafs. They may very well be recent as a daisy towards whoever will get overlooked of the Atlantic Division.
But when all goes effectively, there’s the roadmap, kind of.
For extra foolish hockey ideas or simply anti-Olczyk rants, comply with Sam Fels on Twitter @Felsgate
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