- Apr 18, 2007
Right now my biggest concern is the first round. We've seen time and again the President's Trophy winner fail to get in gear against a team that, more likely than not, has been fighting for its playoff life for weeks.It's the NHL, so you never know. But what can derail this team right now?
Of the four potential WC2 teams they can face, only Pittsburgh doesn't worry me that much—middling stats across the board combined with poor goaltending. (Though the officiating in that series might drive me up a wall.)
Florida is technically a better possession team than the Bruins are, has a lethal offense, and actually is above average defending 5v5. They get into trouble on the penalty kill—but again, in this hypothetical playoff scenario, I don't see that being that big of a factor.
Islanders are third in PDO, thanks to Sorokin having an elite season in net. They suck at possession, but have players like Barzal who have in the past cashed in repeatedly on sneakaways and odd-man rushes against the Bs. They can easily steal a series by getting early leads and parking the bus in front of Sorokin.
If somehow the Sabres make it in, it will be because Levi is a goaltending messiah. Combined with their outstanding offense and the fact that they would probably be on a heater (they need to practically win all of their remaining games), they could easily be a first round spoiler.
The good news is that of all the President's Trophy teams recently, I really like the Bruins as a playoff team. They're the best defensive team in the league, with not just the best goalie in the league, but a backup that is right behind him in terms of goals saved above expected. In the past this team was over-reliant on its power play for goal scoring... well, they've just spent the past three months with an objectively awful PP and were still among the best in the league in overall scoring. Unlike other President Trophy's teams they didn't rely on a lot of overtime/shootout points and currently have as many regulation wins as the next beat team's overall wins (Carolina). They're deep at every position and have several players who've been here before. Obviously a lot can happen but I expect they'll be ready to go Game 1.