The NHL playoffs start on Tuesday night and the number one favorite is the Boston Bruins. However, David Pastrňák’s team is not in an ideal mood.
Remember David Pastrnak’s hat trick against Pittsburgh earlier this month | Video: Associated Press
In the first round, the Bruins face Florida, which won the second wild card in the final race of several clubs, i.e. the eighth place in the conference.
It follows who is the favorite. Any insider will most likely tell you that Boston will advance as the best team in the regular season. All 16 interviewed journalists from the NHL’s official website agreed on this outcome.
The statistical model of the server The Athletic then gives Boston a 73 percent chance to advance.
“The current Bruins are the best team in history, proving it by setting league records for wins (65) and points (135) in a single season. Even after writing these numbers, you think they might not be real,” the text reads.
TSN analyst and former scout Craig Button also believes in Boston, who tried to predict the outcome of all series up to the final. He’s gone against the grain on a few occasions (he thinks the Islanders will knock off Carolina, for example), but not with the Bruins. According to him, they will reach the finals, where they will beat Edmonton.
“They don’t have a weakness. They’re big, strong, skilled, they just have everything from goaltending to offense. It’s the most complete team I’ve seen in the playoffs since Montreal in 1977,” Button said.
Even opponents claim that Boston stands out precisely because it does not rely on one superstar. So it’s hard to focus on someone. Although Pastrňák scored an astonishing 61 goals in the past regular season, eight other players scored between 16 and 27.
“You always have to be careful. Every guy can shoot, every guy can score,” the Boston Globe quoted Washington winger Tom Wilson as saying why the Bruins are so difficult to play against.
Wilson’s teammate, defenseman Nick Jensen, talked about Pastrňák et al. similarly. “When I play against them and see some of their actions, I don’t even know how they did it,” he said.
Boston also dominates backwards. There is pressure on defense, Linus Ullmark can win the Vezina Trophy for the league’s best goaltender and Patrice Bergeron the Selke Trophy for the best defensive forward.
“Obviously they’re smart and talented, but I think what makes them special is the team bond,” added Arizona running back Josh Brown, who had a short stint in Boston at the end of last year. “There really is such a brotherhood there, it was something extraordinary to see with my own eyes.”
Even the Bruins, who last lost at the end of March, are still struggling.
In recent weeks, coach Jim Montgomery wasn’t so much about records as he was about having all of his players healthy and fit for the playoffs. That didn’t quite work out.
David Krejci missed the final six games of the regular season due to an unspecified lower-body injury, while winger Nick Foligno and defenseman Derek Forbort missed even longer. While Krejčí is scheduled to start against Florida on Tuesday night, a question mark hangs over the start of the other two.
But the biggest problem is the uncertainty surrounding captain Bergeron, who withdrew from the last game in Montreal with an upper-body injury and missed both weekend practices. In his place, Pavel Zacha led the first line with Brad Marchand and Jake DeBrusk.
His position in the successful Czech formation with Krejčí and Pastrňák was taken by Tyler Bertuzzi.
Whether that will be the case in the series opener against Florida is not clear. Either way, Coach Montgomery has to rotate the lineup more than he wanted to a few weeks ago.
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