BOSTON (CBS) – With seven games left to go in the regular season the NHL playoff race is still far from over, but if the season ended today the Bruins would draw the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first round — which is exactly what Joe Haggerty of CSNNE is hoping for.
Haggs explained Monday morning on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher and Rich show why Columbus presents the most favorable matchup:
“It would be interesting to face [former Bruin] Nathan Horton, but I just think that’s a team that doesn’t have a lot of playoff experience. That’s a team you can take advantage of. They’re gritty and they play a hard style, sort of like the Bruins in that they’re physical and blue collar. I think that’s exactly what the Bruins want to face.”
Washington and Toronto are still very much in the hunt and in shape to possibly take seventh seed, and if the Red Wings were to falter here down the stretch the B’s could find themselves facing a dangerous Detroit team that’s now just starting to get healthy.
“I think the Red Wings are another team that’s trouble in the first round. It’s looking like they could face Detroit. With [Pavel] Datsyuk, [Niklas] Cronwall, Jimmy Howard and the guys on that team that’s a troubling matchup for the Bruins.”
Should the Bruins advance they could find themselves in a tough second round battle against the rival Canadiens. Since acquiring Tomas Vanek at the trade deadline, the Habs have played a much better all around game, but Haggerty is of the mind that the Bruins could wear them down in a seven games series.
“They should beat [Montreal], they probably will beat [Montreal], but they will get pushed very hard in that series. It’s probably gonna go seven games if they do play them. The speed of Montreal, the addition of Vanek, plus how they play pokes at the Bruins, gets them to take bad penalties and gets them frustrated and out of their game.
“Montreal is the exact wrong matchup for Boston and it’ll be the most difficult playoff series, certainly in the East bracket, should the Bruins advance to the Stanley Cup Finals,” Haggerty concluded.
Listen below for the full discussion, including Haggs’ take that Tuukka Rask is the Vezina winner and “it’s not even close.”