The Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs will square off in the first round of the 2019 NHL playoffs in a rematch of last year’s seven-game thriller.
The Bruins finished second in the Atlantic Division with 107 points, tied for the second most in the NHL with the Calgary Flames. The team was led by winger Brad Marchand who tallied 100 points on the season with 36 goals and 64 assists. David Pastrnak was the team’s leading goal scorer with 38 and Patrice Bergeron had the highest plus/minus at a plus 23.
The power play was a bright spot for the B’s all season long. They finished third in the league, converting on 25.9 percent of their opportunities. On the penalty kill, the Bruins were in the middle of the pack. They were 16th in the league, making kills at a 79.9 percent rate.
Defense and goaltending have been strong for the Bruins as well. Despite injuries on defense and equal playing time for Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak, the Bruins posted the third-best goals against per game at 2.59.
The black and gold have battled injuries all season long and, with the injuries to John Moore, Sean Kuraly and Kevan Miller, will continue to do so in the playoffs.
Toronto Maple Leafs
The Maple Leafs finished third in the Atlantic Divison with 100 points, reaching that mark for the second consecutive season. On offense, the Leafs were led by newly acquired center John Tavares, who amassed 47 goals on the year. Third-year center Mitch Marner was the team’s point leader in the regular season with 94 points and finished the year a plus 22.
The Leafs scored on 21.8 percent of their power play opportunities which was good for eighth in the NHL. On the penalty kill, they also finished at a 79.9% clip, meaning this series may come down to special teams.
On defense, Morgan Reilly had a terrific season for the Leafs. He finished fourth on the team in points with 72, including 20 goals.
Goaltending has been a bit of an issue for Toronto. Frederik Andersen finished the season with a .917 save percentage, ranking him 15th in the league along with a 2.77 goals against average.
The Leafs will look to avenge last year’s first-round exit and advance to the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
I see this series going six games with the Bruins coming out on top.