For the fifteenth time in the last seventeen NHL seasons, the Boston Bruins will be present and accounted for in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

For the third time in the past seven seasons, the Bruins will face a familiar foe in the first round.


As a result of the Bruins 3-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators in the season finale, coupled with Florida’s 5-2 trouncing of Toronto, the Panthers stole the Atlantic Division crown by one point and locked Boston into a first round meeting with the Maple Leafs. It’ll be the fourth playoff matchup between the two franchises since 2013, and every previous one went to seven games.

Many Bruins fans have a right to be aggrieved with their play down the stretch, dropping two winnable games to clinch the division, but ceding home ice to Florida may actually be the better alternative. 

Lost in the madness of the last playoff spot was the Tampa Bay Lightning being locked into the first Wild Card. Tampa hasn’t played like the juggernaut of recent years, but they’re still a big time threat. After a subpar first half, the Lightning have been back in elite form.

Since the Bruins’ 7-3 defeat on January 6th, Tampa is 25-12-3, the sixth-best record in the league.

They still have several core members from the repeat Cup years and previous runs. Nikita Kucherov is playing out of his mind, Stamkos and Point both have 40 goals, and Vasilevskiy is rounding into form.

With the New York Rangers clinching the President’s Trophy, whoever won the Atlantic would have the misfortune of playing Tampa. Considering the Lightning took three of four regular-season meetings, the Bruins won’t be too upset to avoid that familiar foe.


On the other hand, Boston has beaten Toronto in seven straight regular-season meetings. 


The Leafs have also stumbled to the finish line and their fans aren’t exactly thrilled to play Boston again.


The Bruins match up far better with Toronto personnel-wise and scheme-wise.

The Maple Leafs have the high-end talent to out-gun Boston, but they haven’t fully taken advantage of it.


Matthews, Marner, Nylander, and Tavares only combined for 11 points and a -7 rating in the four regular season games. Conversely, Marchand, Pastrnak, DeBrusk, and Zacha recorded 22 points and a +11.

On the back end, the Bruins have the edge on defense and goaltending, and it’s not particularly close.

  • The Bruins’ defense ranks 6th in the league with 2.70 Goals Against Per Game. Toronto is 20th at 3.15 Goals Against Per Game.
  • Boston’s team Save Percentage of .915% ranks 3rd, and Toronto’s .899% is 23rd.
  • Boston’s 82.5% Penalty Kill is 7th, Toronto’s 76.9% is 22nd.

Unlike the last three series between these Original Six rivals, this one won’t go the distance. Bruins in Six.

Bruins fans are well aware that the Stanley Cup Playoffs are an entirely different animal. The entire season can flip on it’s head overnight, good ways and bad. But the Bruins have shown hearts of lions to play to this level after all they lost last year.


All they need is a snowball’s chance to compete for the Stanley Cup.

Photo: Joshua Clipperton/The Canadian Press

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