After having their most successful season since winning the President’s Trophy in the 2013-2014 season, the Boston Bruins landed themselves the second position in the Atlantic Division and drew a match up against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the opening round of the NHL playoffs. After sneaking into the playoffs last season as the second wild card team in the Eastern Conference, the Leafs were able to secure third place in the Atlantic Division and look to be a tough match-up for the B’s.Our Boston plays Toronto 2018 Stanley Cup series pick has the Bruins as the series favorite. But will they come through?
In the season series between the two teams, Toronto won two games in regulation, one game in overtime, and lost a game in regulation. Both teams have had stellar offense this year with Boston’s finishing 6th in the league in goals for and Toronto finishing 3rd. Boston’s top line of Brad Marchand (34-51-85), David Pastrnak (35-45-80), and Patrice Bergeron (30-33-63) has been productive all year despite Marchand and Bergeron both missing a slew of games. The line has been one of the best in the entire NHL all season and will be tough for Toronto to contain.
The biggest surprise of the Bruins’ season was the ample contributions of their youth, including forwards Danton Heinen and Jake DeBrusk, along with Defenseman Charlie McAvoy. Heinen and DeBrusk finished ninth and tied for 11th in rookie scoring this year while McAvoy posted 32 points (tied third best among rookie D-Men) despite missing 19 games due to injury. Ryan Danato has also contributed nicely since signing with the team after his Olympic stint. The Harvard product put up 9 points in 12 games to finish the year.
Much like the B’s the youth in the Leaf’s lineup has also been vital to their offensive success. The team was led in scoring by Mitch Marner, who had an incredible end to his regular season, going on an 11-game point streak during the month of March, to end the season with 69 points. Auston Matthews was also a huge offensive threat for Toronto, scoring at a 1.02 per game pace in the 2017-2018 season. Along with the leading offense from Marner and Matthews, offense has also come from James van Riemsdyk (36 goals), William Nylander (61 points), and Nazem Kadri (55 points) this year. The offense generated from both team’s young players while supplementing their other key contributors has translated to special teams success, with the B’s and Leafs finishing with the fourth and second best powerplays in the NHL this season.
This offensive fire power through the lineup coupled with giving up the fourth least goals in the NHL powered the B’s to be tied for the third greatest goal differential this season at +56. Goaltenders Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin have both had very solid seasons. Khudobin’s play allowed Rask to play his lowest number of games in a season since the lockout shortened 2012-2013 year. During the 2012-2013 playoffs Boston made it to the Stanley Cup Final and The Bruins hope to have Rask’s decreased workload translate into more energy in the crease and postseason success this year.
Rask’s match-up in net will be Frederik Andersen. The Danish netminder has been one of the most underrated goaltenders in the league this season, posting a 2.81 GAA, a .918 save percentage and leading the league in total saves with 2029. In his career Rask has been hard to beat in the post-season, and the Bruins allowed only 29.3 shots against per-game (2nd least in the NHL) this season despite missing many key defensemen such as Zdeno Chara, Brandon Carlo, Kevin Miller, and McAvoy at different points during the year. Andersen will have to outplay the Finn to win the series, which looks to be a lofty task, especially with much of Boston’s blueline starting the playoffs healthy.
Boston Plays Toronto 2018 Stanley Cup Series Pick
In a matchup between two high scoring teams, The Boston Bruins look to have slight edge on paper. The Bruins have a much deeper lineup on defense than Toronto and coupled with great goaltending, this depth has allowed them a chance to win against almost anyone even when their roster has been depleted due to injuries. This series will likely be the tightest of any first round match ups, but due the Boston’s defensive depth and Rask’s stellar performance this season and in playoffs past, the B’s look ready to send the Leaf’s packing in the first round, despite this series likely going down to the wire. Here is our Boston plays Toronto 2018 Stanley Cup series pick.