The Boston Bruins take on the New York Islanders in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs starting May 29. The Bruins, the three seed, advanced by defeating the Washington Capitals in five games. The four-seeded Islanders got to the next round by overcoming the Penguins in six games.
The Islanders won the season series with the Bruins 5-3, winning the first five games before the trade deadline and Boston won the final three afterward. The Islanders led in goals scored 21-16, but were outscored 10-3 in the last three games.
Last season, both the Bruins and Islanders advanced to the second round, but the Bruins got eliminated before reaching the Eastern Conference Finals. However, both teams made the East Finals at least once in the last two seasons since the Bruins made it in 2019. That trend will continue as these teams play each other for the third time in postseason history and the first time in over 35 years.
The Islanders lead the all-time series 2-0 and have a record of 8-3 against Boston in playoff games. The Islanders and Oilers happen to be the only two teams that the Bruins haven’t beaten at least once in two chances in the playoffs. So, if the Islanders win this series, they’ll be the only team to be 3-0 all-time against the Bruins in the playoffs.
Each team’s trade deadline acquisitions appear to be a big story of this series. Taylor Hall has been the story of the Bruins season and how good the team has been since his arrival. Thanks to Hall’s 14 points in 16 games, the Bruins found much needed depth scoring which allowed them to find their identity. This, in turn, led them to go from a fringe playoff team to a contender in one of the most competitive divisions in the NHL.
The Islanders added more than one player at the trade deadline; Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac. The acquisition of the longtime Devils forwards caused many to believe that the Islanders would come out on top of the East division, as they sat with a great 27-11-4 record at the time. That proved to be far from the truth, though. The Isles went 5-6-3 since the deadline and only made it to the playoffs as a four seed. Though it’s a very tough division, it seems like Palmieri and Zajac could’ve produced more for the Islanders. The duo combined for six points in New York while Hall netted eight goals on his own for the Bruins.
To be fair to Palmieri, he has played a lot better in the playoffs, scoring three goals thus far. Hall also has three points of his own, though, so one has to wonder who’ll have the better performance this series.
The story of the Bruins offense versus the Islanders defense should be one to watch as well. The Bruins offense really came alive when Taylor Hall came to town, as mentioned before. But the Islanders have made a living in playing defense this season. The Islanders allowed the second-fewest goals this season and also have one of the best penalty-killing units in the NHL.
The Bruins, however, averaged the third-most shots per game in the league and also have a very good power play. With Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak on the first line, it will be interesting to see if they can continue to dominate. Barry Trotz has to worry about that high-scoring first line as well as the depth forwards who have been playing really well. Taylor Hall, Jake DeBrusk, Charlie McAvoy, Nick Ritchie, and Craig Smith all notched up at least three points in the first round and it should be hard to contain all of them.
The goalie matchup will also be interesting to see. Tuukka Rask, the 2014 Vezina winner and two-time Stanley Cup starting goaltender goes up against rookie Ilya Sorokin. Sorokin saw his first NHL action this year and didn’t disappoint. Finishing with a .918 save percentage, 2.17 GAA, and three shutouts, the 25-year-old impressed many people. Fans didn’t get to see too much of him though since he backed up Semyon Varlamov all year.
In the playoffs, Sorokin showed that he could hang with the big boys, posting a .943 save percentage, 1.95 GAA, and an undefeated 4-0 record. He played far better than Varlamov, who went 0-2 and currently sits with a .903 save percentage and 3.61 GAA. Rask also played very well in between the pipes, finishing with a .941 save percentage, 1.81 GAA, and a 4-1 record in the first round.
This series should be a great battle between a great defense and stellar offense to get to the Eastern Conference Finals. Whichever team comes out victorious would make an entertaining series against the Hurricanes or Lightning, depending on which team advances to the next round.
Game 1 — Sat, May 29: Islanders at Bruins, 8 p.m. | NBC
Game 2 — Mon, May 31: Islanders at Bruins, 7:30 p.m. | NBC Sports Network
Game 3: Bruins at Islanders, TBD
Game 4: Bruins at Islanders, TBD
Game 5: (if necessary) Islanders at Bruins, TBD
Game 6: (if necessary) Bruins at Islanders, TBD
Game 7: (if necessary) Islanders at Bruins, TBD
Will be updated when rest of schedule details come out*
Bruins win series 4-2
DraftKings Money Line: Islanders +163 | Bruins -192