With less than three weeks to go until the NHL playoffs begin, many teams are starting to find an identity. The Boston Bruins have had one for weeks now. There record is 45-17-10 with 100 points and they clinched a playoff spot in Wednesday Night’s 2-1 loss in overtime to the Boston Bruins.
I have thought about this recently and I think the Boston Bruins will be more dangerous than the Tampa Bay Lightning in the playoffs, even though the Lighting have the best record in the east at 50-19-4 with 104 points.
Boston will be more dangerous in the playoffs than Tampa Bay is because the Bruins have a better defense than the Lightning do. Boston has given up 186 goals so far this season which is tied for the second best in the NHL with the Los Angeles Kings. Tampa Bay has given up 205 goals.
Even though the Lightning have scored 264 goals so far this season and the Bruins have scored 240 goals, Boston has a 54-goal differential and Tampa Bay has a 59-goal differential.
The Bruins will have a good backup goalie in Anton Khudobin if Tuukka Rask goes down with an injury and the Lightning have no backup goalie if Andrei Vasilevskiy goes down.
Boston is only four points behind Tampa Bay despite injuries to Rick Nash, Adam McQuiad, and Patrice Beregeron. The Bruins have better depth than the Lightning do.
The Bruins shutout the Lightning 3-0 last Saturday Night in Tampa Bay and they play each other two more times this season.
In order for either Boston or Tampa Bay to make it to the Stanley Cup Finals, they are most likely going to have to face the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Boston and Tampa Bay each scored 17 goals and went 2-1 in three games against Pittsburgh this season, but Boston at least beat Matt Murray once this season. When Tampa Bay faced Pittsburgh, they faced Antti Niemi in both of Tampa Bay’s wins and when they lost, the Lightning were stone walled by Tristan Jarry. Tampa Bay has also yet to face Matt Murray this season.