Bruins and Islanders battle will open second-round of NHL Playoffs. Game 1 is set for Saturday at 8 PM ET. Technically, both the Boston Bruins and New York Islanders served upset specials in their opening-round playoff victories.
The Bruins, who finished third in the jammed-tight East Division, pushed aside the second-place Washington Capitals in five games, while the Islanders dropped the division-champion Pittsburgh Penguins — who finished only six points ahead of them — in six games.
Bruins and Islanders
That’s not the only parallel between the Bruins and Islanders, who will kick off their second-round Stanley Cup playoffs series Saturday in Boston. The Bruins and Islanders are similar squads, with talented top lines and deep rosters that are strong defensively as well as offensively.
“They’re a patient team, they defend well … it doesn’t matter who they put in there, they’re going to get good goaltending,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said of the Islanders.
“I think they have a lot of our attributes. They want to be structured, they want to play with discipline, they have good goaltending. Their D certainly get involved, but they want to play defense first. They’ve got different lines that can hurt you. So in that regard, we’re playing ourselves a little bit.”
The Islanders posted a 5-2-1 record against the Bruins this season, but Boston claimed the final three meetings. Maybe it’s just a coincidence, but the Bruins won all three meetings after acquiring forward Taylor Hall, which gave them a potent second line that also includes David Krejci and Craig Smith. That takes some of the offensive pressure off the top trio of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak.
The Bruins also will receive a boost to their defense corps led by Charlie McAvoy, who is from Long Island. Injured defenseman Jeremy Lauzon (lower body), who was hurt in the playoff opener, appears ready. The Bruins are still without defensemen Jakub Zboril (upper body) and Kevan Miller (head), but having Lauzon return will help.
“Every day I’m making good strides,” Lauzon said. “At the end, it’s not going to be my call but, for sure, I’m feeling better and better.”
Bruins and Islanders rivalry renewed
This marks the third time the Islanders and Bruins have met in the playoffs, but the first since 1983. Boston, which has now moved past the opening round in four consecutive seasons, was eliminated by the Tampa Bay Lightning last year in the second round, while the Islanders are looking to reach the third round for a second consecutive season, and are well aware the task ahead.
“They’re playing some good hockey,” said forward Travis Zajac of the Islanders. “They beat a really good team. We beat a really good team, so it’s going to be another fun series.”
The Islanders have won at least one playoff series in all three seasons coach Barry Trotz has been behind the bench. Their victory over the Penguins marked the first time New York clinched a playoff series at Nassau Coliseum since 1993.
“It’s been quite a while, quite a journey,” forward Brock Nelson said. “A lot of guys in here that have been around, a couple of guys that have been here longer than I have. I think it just goes back to this is a special place, a special group that really wants to go out there and win and compete for a Stanley Cup and raise it. To be seeing progress and getting close and having runs, it’s awesome. It’s fun. We’re trying to go all the way.”
–Field Level Media
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