After a long, COVID-19 induced layoff, the Boston Bruins returned to action in a big way by defeating the Carolina Hurricanes in five games in the first round of the National Hockey League (NHL) playoffs. The Eastern Conference Finals rematch from 2019 was highly anticipated as the ‘Canes had proved that they were not the same team that was swept by the Bruins last year.
The Bruins, along with 23 other remaining NHL teams, have been forced to play in a “bubble” located in Toronto, Edmonton and Alberta, Canada. This is to minimize the chances of COVID-19 related issues.
With young forwards Sebastian Aho and Andrei Svechnikov, the ‘Canes were one of the most exciting young teams entering the bubble anchored by their veteran forwards, Jordan Stall and Justin Williams. The Hurricanes were tough in the NHL restart, but are now left with some questions; one being, will “Mr. Game 7” Justin Williams retire?
Meanwhile, the Bruins advanced to the second round and drew the Tampa Bay Lightning. This has been a match-up that Bruins and Lightning fans have been wishing for since their last regular season matchup in March. Arguably two of the best teams in the NHL faced off last Sunday in game one, which was a tightly contested match-up.
In a 3-2 victory, the Bruins’ so called “Perfection Line” of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak showed up in a big way in game one by combining for five points and a beautiful game-winning goal to help the Bruins secure the 1-0 lead in the series.
The Perfection Line was a dominant force as they controlled the pace, totaling 11 shots on net and 22 shots altogether. The Tampa Bay defense didn’t put up much resistance and there were many golden opportunities for the Bruins and David Pastrnak, who hit two posts in this contest.
Bruins forward Brad Marchand brought his best effort in game one, as he was involved in every goal for his team. His puck possession and ability to corral loose pucks allowed for fresh bodies to get on the ice and resulted in Charlie Coyle’s goal. His puck retrieval and natural pest mentality earned the next two goals for Boston as Marchand was involved on the forecheck to help knock the puck loose and create an opportunity for himself to score.
The Bruins have also seen a resurgence from second line center David Krejci who has been one of the most important players for the Bruins during their playoff run. This shouldn’t come as a shock to Boston fans as “Playoff Krech” has shown in the past that he is a man on a mission in the playoffs. In 2011 and 2013 he was the Bruins leading point scorer alongside Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton and has now seen a boost from playing with line mates Ondrej Kase and Jake Debrusk.
On the defensive end, the Bruins have relied on goaltender Jaroslav Halak since Vezina trophy finalist Tuukka Rask left the bubble for family matters. Halak and Rask combined to win the Jennings trophy, so the Bruins have performed well with either goaltender in between the pipes. Halak has now won four playoff games in a row, posting a .936 save percentage and a 1.75 goals against average in those games. He was the Bruins best player in the second period of game 1 as the Bruins were under heavy pressure but Halak stood strong and didn’t allow any past him in the period.