WOW!!! What a difference a few days can make in a push to the NHL championship. Tampa Bay- gone. Calgary- gone. Nashville and Washington- good bye to the both of you. Anyone possessing a perfect Stanley Cup bracket needs to immediately play the lottery.
There is not much time for tired teams to recover- but want to give a quick update on the two series beginning tonight.
Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Boston Bruins
Many people believed a sweep in the Columbus vs Tampa Bay series who possible, if not probable. Tampa Bay entered the matchup as the odds on favorite to win the Stanley Cup after wrecking the league during the regular season. A week later, the Columbus Blue Jackets advanced to the second round shattering the aura of the Lightning’s invincibility in four games.
The beat down of Tampa Bay occurred in every facet of the game of hockey. Columbus outscored the Lightning 19-8 over the series and never seemed in danger of losing. Reflecting on this series the past few days- I believe the Blue Jackets trade deadline acquisition of Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel was underestimated. Their play, along with Cam Atkinson and Artemi Panarin, gave confidence to the rest of the team.
In goal, Bobrovsky had a very dominating performance after the first period of the series. The first period of game 1- Bobrovsky was scorched for 3 goals and I believed the rout was on. The Russian calmed himself down and allowed a single goal in games 2 and 3. By the time the final game in the series started, he had established himself in the net and shattered the Lightning’s confidence.
Boston begins the series after 48 hours of rest and a 7 game grueling matchup against their rivals the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Bruins proved to be clutch when it mattered against Toronto, winning game 6 on the road before clinching the series at home. Boston demonstrated the ability to score, at times, against Toronto and be scored upon.
Boston’s main players are going to have to take it up a notch against Columbus. The front line scorers, Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pasternak cannot disappear for long stretches of game time. Boston can get to the second round, but cannot go in against the upstart Blue Jackets overconfident. Tuukka Rask proved to be solid in goal. Long described as having a love/hate relationship with the Boston faithful, Rask showed up big in game 7.
The teams are very equally matched across the board. The offense for both teams are virtually equal. The defense may be slightly tipped to the favor of the underdog. I rate Bobrovsky as a better goaltender than Rask and he can be counted on to steal a game. The major difference between the teams is on the power play. The Bruins are dominant when they have a man advantage and this showed against Toronto. The Blue Jackets must hold them at bay and not commit silly penalties.
I will take the Bruins to advance in 7 games. Unfortunately, I do not see a lot of betting value at the current lines as Columbus is receiving love from the public.