BOSTON (CBS) — After an entertaining seven-game tussle with the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round, the Boston Bruins will now take on the Columbus Blue Jackets for a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals.
While the Bruins are still riding the high of their Game 7 victory on Tuesday, the Blue Jackets are well-rested after sweeping the top-seeded Tampa Bay Lightning nine days ago. Perhaps a little too well-rested?
Here is how the WBZ-TV and CBS Boston sports teams see the series playing out:
Dan Roche, WBZ-TV
Getting past the first round was extremely difficult around the NHL, as higher seed after higher seed went down. The Bruins needed another Game 7 to get by the Maple Leafs. Meanwhile, the Blue Jackets pulled off one of the biggest upsets we’ve seen in the NHL with their sweep of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Columbus outscored the Lightning 19-8, and it was 19-5 after Tampa jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the opening period of Game 1. Sergei Bobrovsky was spectacular after the first period of the series and if he stays hot, it could make things difficult for the Boston offense.
I thought Columbus became a dangerous team with the in-season acquisition of Ottawa’s Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel. Those two sparked the team and got them going. Meanwhile, Artemi Panarin is one of the NHL’s best goal scorers. Seth Jones and Zach Werenski lead the D.
The Bruins needed everything they had to beat Toronto, but they come into the second round as a healthy, confident bunch. Game 1 could set the tone and ultimately decide the series. The Bruins will look to keep their momentum going while establishing home ice for the series. Columbus will have been off for nine days coming in, so it will be interesting to see where they’re at.
Should be another tough series for Boston.
Bruins in 7
Levan Reid, WBZ-TV
Feeling good about the Bruins and getting out of that first round of playoffs is always the key.
Tuuka has some validation and maybe now this team will play free and easy. I like them against the Blue Jackets, with Bergeron and Marchand as the team’s standouts in the series.
Bruins in 6
Scott Sullivan, WBZ-TV
Very few saw this matchup coming after Tampa Bay’s historic season. It’s no surprise the Bruins made it, but Columbus upsetting the Lightning was a gargantuan shocker. Now the road to the Stanley Cup is wide open.
The Blue Jackets should be fresh, albeit a bit rusty after a nine-day layoff, while the Black-and-Gold could be a bit spent after an exhausting seven-game series with the Maple Leafs.
Columbus frustrated Tampa Bay by playing a congested 1-2-2 system and they’re bound to try the same with Boston. How the B’s handle it could be the key to the series.
The battle of the goaltenders is also key. Sergei Bobrovsky is streaky, but if he’s on like he was in Round 1, the B’s are in trouble. Tuukka Rask was his steady self for most of the series against Toronto, saving his best for last in Game 7.
Bottom line, the Bruins are the better team. But they can’t take Columbus lightly like Tampa did. If the B’s match the physicality of Columbus, and find holes in their defensive system, the Bruins will win the series.
Bruins in 6
Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
It’s great to be hot in the playoffs. It’s not always great to be so hot that you earn yourself a nine-day break.
That’s what the Blue Jackets did by sweeping the Lightning – I’m sorry, by sweeping the HISTORICALLY GREAT LIGHTNING. It was an incredible feat. But, for as much as this is a Stupid Sports Thing, I do feel as though not playing for more than a week after finishing the sweep will hurt them. (See: 2007 Colorado Rockies.)
It won’t be easy, but the Bruins just beat a better team in the first round. They should handle the Blue Jackets.
Bruins in 6
Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
Columbus is coming off their historic upset of the Lightning, the first team to ever sweep a Presidents’ Cup Trophy winner out of the first round, and Sergei Bobrovsky is the kind of goalie that can steal his team a round or two. If he is still on after that lengthy layoff, this is going to be a difficult series for Boston’s scorers.
The Bruins know the road to a Stanley Cup is wide open, and it certainly seems like it’s theirs to lose with the Lightning, Capitals and Penguins all planning tee times. But they can’t overlook this Blue Jackets team, and will need consistent production out of David Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron and Jake DeBrusk if they want to move on. While the Leafs did a great job negating Bergeron, I don’t think the Blue Jackets will be able to do the same.
I hope this series goes at least six games, because that increases the likelihood of John Tortorella doing something wild from the Columbus bench.
Bruins in 6