Because the Tampa Bay Lightning were such a wagon this season, it can be easy to forget the Boston Bruins were quite the formidable squad themselves.
The B’s finished with a share of second-most points in the NHL this season, but they’ve got a pretty tough road in front of them in the Stanley Cup playoffs. They’ll open with the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round, and provided they get through them, they likely will play the Bolts in the conference semifinals.
With the Stanley Cup playoffs set to begin Wednesday, The Athletic put together an anonymous panel that featured a player, coach, scout and two executives to weigh in on each team’s chances this postseason. And, interestingly enough, it was the player that told Craig Custance that the Bruins would win the Stanley Cup.
Here’s what they had to say.
?’Tampa is the obvious pick but (the Cup winner) is usually not the obvious pick,’ said the player, who is from the Eastern Conference. ‘I think it?s going to be one of Tampa, Washington or Boston.’
Forced to pick one, the player chose the Bruins: ‘Matchup-wise, they?re the best bet to knock Tampa off. They play well defensively and they?re structured but they?re explosive offensively. The top line is as good as any in the playoffs. Depth has gotten better. They?re not elite on the back end but play a team system and the goaltending is good enough. They can defend the Lightning and still score on them.’?
Indeed, the Bruins have been a pretty well-rounded group this season, and they’ve responded well to injuries at almost every turn. They also have played the Lightning well this season, making the possible matchup between the two all the more fascinating.
The Bruins obviously are focused on the Leafs first, but it’s not far off to predict Boston might be playing well into the spring.