The second round of the playoffs kicks off with a heavyweight match between the Islanders and Bruins. The Islanders eliminated the Penguins in six games winning the series 4-2. The Bruins dispatched their first-round opponent, the Capitals, in just five games. This playoff series will be the first between these two teams since the 82-83 Conference Finals. The Islanders won that series in six games 4-2. The Bruins had some trouble with the Isles going just 3-3-2 in the regular-season series. The good news is all three of those wins came after the trade deadline.
Islanders Players To Watch
First up is the entire second line. The Killer Bs line of Beauvillier, Bailey, and Brock Nelson dominated the first round. Not only were all three forwards point per game scorers they all scored 3 goals as well. Next up is superstar forward Mathew Barzal. Barzal led the Isles in regular-season scoring with 45 points in 55 games. However, in the first round, he had just three assists. Look for a possible breakout if New York is going to win this series.
The final player to watch is rookie goalie Ilya Sorokin. In the regular season Sorokin split the starting job going 13-6-3 with a .918 save percentage and a 2.17 goals against. Since taking the starting job in the playoffs Sorokin is 4-0 with a .943 save percentage and a 1.95 goals against. Incredible numbers for a rookie goalie but will the increased pressure of the second round start to get to him?
Bruins Second Round Players To Watch
First on the list is David Pastrnak. Entering the playoffs Pasta had just 1 goal in his last six games. That would go to 1 goal in nine games before Pasta scored in both games four and five. Here is a quick highlight of one of those goals if you missed it. The goals haven’t quite been there this season but it looks like Pasta is heating up at just the right time. Next up is Jake Debrusk once again just like in round one. Debrusk scored in the first two games last round and was looking like a key depth contributor. In the last three games, Debrusk had 1 assist and 0 shots on goal.
If the Bruins want to make it out of the second round they need games 1 and 2 Debrusk, not games 3-5. The final Bruin to keep an eye on is Matt Grzelcyk. As McAvoy’s defense partner Gryz will be facing the Islander’s top forwards. On top of that his ability to start plays coming out of the defensive zone will be crucial to the team’s offense. Here is an article that goes a bit deeper into his impact. Getting through the neutral zone will be huge in this series and Grzelcyk makes doing that a lot easier for Boston.
Final Thoughts/ Keys To The Series
The first key to the series is to stay disciplined. Like Washington, the Islanders play a physical game and will look to draw retaliation calls. Staying out of the box and attacking their 75% penalty kill will go a long way to winning the series. The next key is clearing the crease. Even without Lee and Wahlstrom the Islanders have plenty of forwards willing to play in the crease. In round 1 Rask had a .941 save percentage and a 1.81 goals-against, if he can see it he’s stopping it. Finally, something we already touched on, zone exits. The Islanders won’t overwhelm you with talent and skill but they have players who can take any mistake and put it in your net. Clean breakouts and zone entries will limit the Islanders transition offense.
The Islanders have shown they are not a team to take lightly. Even after sliding to end the regular season, they turned it around to beat the Penguins. This is the same team the probably gave Tampa the best series they had last year. It’s not going to be easy but with an improved second line and some key depth contributions, the Bruins should take this series. The Bruins will win the series in six. For a preview of game 1 go check out this link before game time. Until next time stay safe out there and LET’S GO BRUINS!!
Featured image courtesy of ESPN.com