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Second Round

Bruins vs. Blue Jackets playoff preview

Goalie matchup between Rask, Bobrovsky among key storylines of second round

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / NHL.com Senior Writer

Boston Bruins vs. Columbus Blue Jackets

Bruins: Defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-3 in best-of-7 Eastern Conference First Round

Blue Jackets: Defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-0 in best-of-7 Eastern Conference First Round

Season series: BOS 2-1-0; CBJ 1-1-1

 

The skinny

The Boston Bruins and Columbus Blue Jackets will face off in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time. Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Second Round is at TD Garden on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS).

 

[RELATED: Complete Bruins vs. Blue Jackets series coverage]

 

The Bruins defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-1 in Game 7 on Tuesday to advance out of the first round for the second straight season and seventh time since 2009, a span that includes a Stanley Cup championship in 2011 and a trip to the Stanley Cup Final in 2013. 

The Blue Jackets are in the second round of the playoffs for the first time in their history after becoming the first team in NHL history to sweep the team that finished with the best regular-season record in the first round. They won four in a row against the Tampa Bay Lightning, who tied the record for most wins in one season (62) and didn't lose more than two games in a row at any point during the regular season. 

Video: Blue Jackets sweep Lightning for first series win

"The operative words are just a little success," Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said. "It's just starting. There is an end goal to this, and that's everything. We've got to take it step by step but not get too carried away as far as how we feel about ourselves as we start preparing for Round 2."

The Blue Jackets haven't played a game since winning Game 4 against the Lightning on April 16. They've tried to stay sharp by practicing hard and with pace. They held an open-to-the-public intrasquad scrimmage at Nationwide Arena on Monday that was attended by more than 5,000 fans free of charge.

"There's no complaints here," Tortorella said. "There's no sense in worrying about [too many days off]. We're just going to keep on practicing and trying to go about our business the right way."

Video: Blue Jackets look to stop Bruins' stellar top line

The Bruins had to win back-to-back games against the Maple Leafs to advance after trailing the series 3-2. They outscored Toronto 9-3 in Games 6 and 7, including 3-0 with two empty-net goals in the third period of a 5-1 win in Game 7.

"The odd thing about this series for us is we actually got healthier as the series went on," Boston coach Bruce Cassidy said. "Usually in the playoffs it's the opposite, so for us to get guys back, John Moore, [Marcus] Johansson was the other one who got hurt, [Sean] Kuraly, I think helped us a lot. … Knock on wood, I believe we are going to be healthy going into the Columbus series."

Video: #ThirstForTheCup: Boston moves on to Second Round

 

Game breakers

Bruins: Brad Marchand followed the first 100-point season of his nine in the NHL with nine points (four goals, five assists) in seven games against Toronto. The left wing didn't have a point in Game 7 but had a Bruins-high five shots on goal and nine shot attempts. Marchand had three points (two goals, one assist) in a 4-2 win in Game 6 and three points (one goal, two assists) in a 6-4 win in Game 4. He had seven points (four goals, three assists) in three games against the Blue Jackets during the regular season, all between March 12-April 2.

Blue Jackets: Matt Duchene led the Blue Jackets with seven points (three goals, four assists) in four games against the Lightning. The center, who could start the second round playing between Ryan Dzingel and Cam Atkinson, carries a three-game goal and point streak into the series. He had four points (one goal, three assists) in Game 2, one goal in Game 3 and two points (one goal, one assist) in Game 4 against Tampa Bay. 

 

Goaltending

Bruins: Tuukka Rask played every minute (414:31) in the first round and had a 2.32 goals-against average and .928 save percentage. He allowed 16 goals on 223 shots, including three on 57 shots in Games 6 and 7. Rask is 39-33 with a 2.25 GAA, a .925 save percentage and five shutouts in 72 NHL playoff games, all starts. If Rask falters, Jaroslav Halak would go in. Halak had a strong regular season with 22 wins, a 2.34 GAA, a .922 save percentage and five shutouts. He is 13-15 with a 2.39 GAA and .924 save percentage in 30 NHL postseason games (28 starts).

Blue Jackets: Sergei Bobrovsky answered questions about his ability to perform in the playoffs with a strong first round, going 4-0 with a 2.01 GAA and .932 save percentage (eight goals on 117 shots). Prior to this season, Bobrovsky was 5-14 with a 3.49 GAA and .891 save percentage in 24 NHL playoff games. His run of dominance against the Lightning continued a strong finish to the regular season, when he went 6-1-0 with a 1.50 GAA, a .947 save percentage and three shutouts in seven straight starts from March 24-April 5. Joonas Korpisalo, Bobrovsky's backup, started 21 games this season and went 10-7-3. He has no playoff experience.

 

Numbers to know

Bruins: The Bruins have three players who have played in more than 100 NHL postseason games: Zdeno Chara (166), Patrice Bergeron (119) and David Krejci (115). They have six players who have won the Stanley Cup (Chara, Bergeron, Krejci, Marchand, Rask, Joakim Nordstrom). Boston was 7-for-16 (43.8 percent) on the power play against Toronto. The Bruins went 4-0 when leading after the first period in the first round. They were 7-for-7 on the penalty kill at home against the Maple Leafs. 

Blue Jackets: They have one player who has won the Stanley Cup: injured defenseman Adam McQuaid, who won it with the Bruins in 2011. They have five players who have advanced beyond the first round of the NHL playoffs. The Blue Jackets were 50.0 percent on the power play against the Lightning (5-for-10). They averaged 4.75 goals per game in the first round. Columbus averaged two minor penalties per game, the fewest among the 16 playoff teams. Boston was next closest with 2.14.

Video: Bruins block 17 shots in Game 7 win vs. Maple Leafs

 

Injury report

Bruins: Kevan Miller (lower body) was seen limping through the dressing room after Game 7 wearing a brace on his right knee. The defenseman did not play in the series, hasn't played since April 4, and is week to week. Connor Clifton missed the last five games of the first round with an upper-body injury. The rookie defenseman played 11:25 in Game 1 and 13:02 in Game 2.

Blue Jackets: They are banged up on the back end with three defensemen potentially unavailable at the start of the series. Markus Nutivaara missed the last two games against the Lightning with an upper-body injury. Ryan Murray (upper body) hasn't played since Feb. 18, missing the final 24 games of the regular season and all four against Tampa Bay. He has been skating on his own. McQuaid (upper body) did not play in the first round after missing the last five regular-season games.

 

They said it

"I don't mind a quick turnaround necessarily when you're playing well. Our last two games, we have played well. … The good news is we saw [the Blue Jackets] three times late in the year. That will help with our preparation. Should help with the players. We know they were physical against Tampa. They came after them. They got key saves. Power play was lights out. So we've got our hands full." -- Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy

"I'm happy for [Bobrovsky]. He's not crazy about what I have talked about with some of the situations he's gone through, but it's my job to hold people accountable. I'm thrilled that he's answering. He's answering. He's got a bit of a burr and that's a pretty good thing for an athlete to have." -- Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella

 

Will win if…

Bruins: Rask builds off his impressive Game 7 performance Tuesday, and the Bruins continue to get scoring from their depth forwards such as Kuraly, Johansson and Nordstrom, who each scored in Game 7. Columbus doesn't have a weak forward line, so Boston can't either. They won't intimidate the Blue Jackets with physicality, but the more they grind on them, the better the experienced Bruins will be as the series wears on. 

Blue Jackets: Bobrovsky is lights out again, and the skaters in front of him maintain their structure through the neutral zone and discipline all over the ice. The Blue Jackets can't get caught running around and out of position. They'll need their big bottom-six forwards, including Josh Anderson, Nick Foligno, Boone Jenner and Brandon Dubinsky, to be physical early, especially if they're playing against the Bruins' top lines. Scoring first will be key. When the Blue Jackets score first, they hold their structure better and play with an aggressive 1-2-2 forecheck.

 

How they look

Bruins projected lineup

Brad Marchand -- Patrice Bergeron -- Danton Heinen

Jake DeBrusk -- David Krejci -- David Pastrnak

Marcus Johansson -- Charlie Coyle -- Karson Kuhlman

Joakim Nordstrom -- Sean Kuraly -- Noel Acciari

Zdeno Chara -- Charlie McAvoy

Torey Krug -- Brandon Carlo

John Moore - Matt Grzelcyk

Tuukka Rask

Jaroslav Halak

Scratched: Steven Kampfer, David Backes, Chris Wagner

 

Blue Jackets projected lineup

Artemi Panarin -- Pierre-Luc Dubois -- Oliver Bjorkstrand

Ryan Dzingel -- Matt Duchene -- Cam Atkinson

Alexandre Texier -- Nick Foligno -- Josh Anderson

Brandon Dubinsky -- Boone Jenner -- Riley Nash

Zach Werenski -- Seth Jones

Dean Kukan -- David Savard

Adam Clendening -- Scott Harrington

Sergei Bobrovsky

Joonas Korpisalo

Scratched: Vladislav Gavrikov, Alexander Wennberg, Markus Hannikainen, Lukas Sedlak, Eric Robinson, Andrew Peeke, Keith Kinkaid, Elvis Merzlikins

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