Thursday, April 29, 2010

Bruins to Meet Flyers in Second Round

As much as I hate to say it, I rooted for the Canadiens last night. Hopefully it's the last time I'll ever have to do so. I took like 5 showers after the game to get rid of the stench of shame. But alas, it paid off in the end - the Canadiens managed to beat the top seeded Washington Capitals in Game 7 last night to advance to the second round. Effectively, that means the Bruins will meet the Flyers in the conference semifinals (and the Canadiens will meet the Penguins. Talk about a lose-lose situation). The 7th seeded Flyers got by the 2nd seeded Devils in the first round, a surprising victory for sure. The Eastern Conference playoffs have been full of surprises - the top 3 seeds were all knocked out in the first round, leaving seeds 4, 6, 7, and 8. Definitely not what the NHL expected I'm sure.

The Flyers and the Bruins both got hot at the right time, making this second round series perhaps an interesting one. Philly took care of the Devils in only 5 games, thanks in large part to the play of goalie Brian Boucher. Boucher, in the first round, had a 1.59 goals against average, letting in 8 goals on 134 shots for a 94% save average. Consider, however, that in the regular season Boucher only played in 56 games, with a 2.76 goals against average and 89% save average. With those numbers, he wasn't even the 3rd best goalie on his team.

Let us not forget our own goalie, the phenom Tuukka Rask. Rask, in 6 games, had a 2.18 gaa with a 92% save average. Sure, the numbers are a little worse than Boucher's. But Rask also played in one more game, and faced more shots. Against the Devils, Boucher faced on average 26.8 shots per contest. Rask, on the other hand, faced 32.1 shots a night. 5 shots more per game is a decent sized difference in the playoffs.

The Bruins will also be able to enlist the help of veteran Marc Savard in this series, as Savvy will be ready to go after recovering from his head injury. You know Savard is itching to get out there and contribute, and maybe even get a shot at Matt Cooke and the Penguins in the Conference Finals. The Flyers will be down three starters for this series- Jeff Carter, Simon Gagne and Ian Laperriere. Both the return of Savard and the loss of 3 guys for the Flyers all helps out the Bruins here.

My prediction for the series is contingent upon Boucher and Rask. If Boucher somehow manages to keep playing out of his head, this series will be very similar to the last one with the Sabres. If Rask slips up, the Bruins are absolutely in trouble. So, my pick is this - Bruins win in 6. I think Rask will keep playing steady in net, and Boucher will slip up a bit with all the net pressure that the Bruins bring. Regardless of outcome, get ready for a great series. Game 1 is Saturday, at 12:30 pm, on NBC...

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