The 2021-2022 Boston Bruins, the 98th season in the history of the hockey club will be participating in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the 75th time in the history of the franchise.
The Bruins season was filled with good, the bad & ugly at times, but at the end of the day, our beloved Bruins have found their way back into the tournament. The Bruins entered the season with a completely new goaltending tandem in Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman; despite the fact that Tuukka Rask attempted a comeback to lead this Bruins team to the promise land and when it was obvious for not only fans but Rask himself, it was time to pass the torch.
Swayman is absolutely a reason as to why the Bruins are where they are this season. In 41 games played this season, the Rookie net minder posted a 23-14-3 record with a GAA of 2.41 and a save percentage of .914%; it was clear that the Swayman is ready for the spot light. Ullmark in 41 games this season posted a 26-10-2 record, GAA of 2.45 and a save percentage of .917%. Obviously there is no wrong choice when it comes to who should be in net for the Bruins, but Ullmark had the better stretch run so most likely Linus will be the go to guys in every single game in the playoffs, depending how far the Bruins go. However, Swayman will be ready for when his number is called, if anything were to happen to Ullmark, Jeremy will give the Bruins a chance to win.
As for the rest of the team, its obvious the Bruins will go as far as their stars will take them. Yes Ullmark has to make the stops but guys like Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak, Taylor Hall, Jake DeBrusk and others need to pepper shots on net. Defenders in Charlie McAvoy; Brandon Carlo, new comer Hampus Lindholm and the rest of the D-core need to play tighter defense.
Over the course of the last month, despite winning games that they needed to win, the Bruins have had issues with giving up a goal with less than 10 seconds left in a period. Whether it's the positioning of either the defender, goalie or whatever, the Bruins cannot afford to be giving up late goals in the playoffs, especially to a team in which they got outscored 16-1 to three games, that team is the Carolina Hurricanes whom of which the Bruins will be playing in the first round of the playoffs.
The Bruins will be playing in the Metropolitan Division of the bracket as they were the first wild card team in the standings. The Bruins finished with 107 points on the season, above the Washington Capitals who finished with 100 points and will be playing in the Atlantic Division bracket. The Bruins might be catching the Hurricanes at a good time as Carolina as both Hurricanes goaltenders are a little banged up. Freddie Anderson who appears to be the Canes top goaltender is optimistic to being able to return during the first round series against Boston. Antti Raanta who got hurt during the final week of the regular season appears to be okay and will most likely start Game 1 at PNC Arena if Anderson is unable to go.
Like the Bruins, Carolina has had some defensive troubles themselves, allowing teams to hang around for a while. Carolina as scored a lot of goals this season as they had a +76 goal differential during the 82-game regular season. Although that number could've been higher if they didn't play some poor defense early on in the season. Although when they have played Boston, they had the scoring touch and shut down defense. The Hurricanes swept the season series against the Bruins as part of their phenomenal regular season.
This will be the third time in the last four years in which the Bruins and Hurricanes will meet in the postseason. The last two series when Boston's way, the 2019 Eastern Conference Final the Bruins swept that series and then the Bruins "gentlemen" swept the Canes in the 2020 bubble playoffs in Toronto. The last time Carolina took a playoff series from the Bruins was the 2009 East Semi-Final, which went 7 games with Carolina coming out on top.
Even though the Canes did dominate the B's in the regular season, however the postseason is another animal. Can't say that this is an inexperienced playoff team in the Hurricanes who have played plenty of playoff hockey over the course of the last few seasons; however there is one thing that Carolina does lack that the Bruins have, a vast majority of this Bruins team has either played in a Cup Final or have won the entire thing. The Bruins were just recently in a Cup Final however, but let's no mention it.
The path to an East Final appearance or even a Cup Final appearance certainly won't be easy for the Bruins, but not impossible as they will avoid one of the three other Atlantic Division teams until that point, or all three if the Capitals take them down. But that's a big if. Right now the Bruins have their hands full in trying to stop guys like Sebastian Aho, Andrei Svechikov, Nino Niederreiter and others. Also trying to solve the puzzle that will be either Anderson or Raanta. Again, the Bruins only scored 1 goal in the three regular season meetings. Again, the Stanley Cup Playoffs are a completely different animal.
Game one of the Eastern Conference First Round begins Monday Night in Carolina. The Hurricanes will have home-ice this round.
Listen to the local call of all Boston Bruins playoff games on 98.5 the Sports Hub. NESN will carry the first four games of the series, and potentially the entire series if it goes past 4 games.
Full Breakdown of the best of 7 series: - *if necessary
GAME 1: Monday May 2nd, at 7:00 PM at PNC Arena, TV: ESPN, NESN Radio: 98.5
GAME 2: Wednesday May 4th at 7:00 PM at PNC Arena, TV: ESPN, NESN Radio: 98.5
GAME 3: Friday May 6th at 7:00 PM at TD Garden, TV: TNT, NESN Radio: 98.5
GAME 4: Sunday May 8th at 12:30 PM at TD Garden, TV: ESPN, NESN Radio: 98.5
*GAME 5: Tuesday May 10th at PNC Arena, Time & TV TBD
*GAME 6: Thursday May 12th at TD Garden Time & TV TBD
*GAME 7: Saturday May 14th at PNC Arena Time & TV TBD