The Second Round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs begins on Saturday. Today, we preview the matchup between the Bruins and Islanders.
BRUINS VS. ISLANDERS (BOS leads 1-0) – series livestream link
Game 1: Bruins 5, Islanders 2
Game 2: Mon. May 31: Islanders at Bruins, 7:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
Game 3: Thurs. June 3: Bruins at Islanders, 7:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
Game 4: Sat. June 5: Bruins at Islanders, 7:15 p.m. ET (NBC)
*Game 5: Mon. June 7: Islanders at Bruins TBD
*Game 6: Wed. June 9: Bruins at Islanders TBD
*Game 7: Fri. June 11: Islanders at Bruins TBD
1. The Bruins have the goaltending advantage
Tuukka Rask looked sharp in the second half of the five-game series with the Capitals, so it won’t be like the Islanders are shooting at Tristan Jarry.
Ilya Sorokin played pretty well for the Islanders late in the series, but the Bruins probably have the upper hand between the pipes until or if they face the Lightning in the Stanley Cup Semifinals.
Rask’s 1.81 goals against in the playoffs is the fifth best in the league. It’s going to be a lot more challenging for the Islanders to break through.
2. At some point, the vibes switched
The Islanders have had the Bruins’ number for the past few years. They went 5-2-1 against the Bruins over the past few seasons, but something changed at the end of this one.
Perhaps it was the late-season additions of Taylor Hall and Mike Reilly, but the Bruins dominated the final two matchups with the Isles. All year long, a lot of the chatter has been how poorly the Bruins match up with the Islanders, but that’s no longer the narrative.
All five of those wins came before April, so it’s fair to throw those regular season games away. Whatever happens now, in this series, will be reflective of the teams they’ve built since.
[NBC 2021 NHL PLAYOFF HUB]
3. Islanders top D pair vs. Bruins top line
The Islanders top defensive pair of Ryan Pulock and Adam Pelech did a solid job on Sidney Crosby and co. with the Penguins. The Bruins top line of Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak, and Brad Marchand is in elite territory as well. The series could very much go how that line goes.
Given the Bruins depth in other parts of the lineup, namely Taylor Hall playing with David Krejci on the second line, the entire Bruins offense can handle if a few elite guys don’t play their best game. That’s more than they could have said even a couple of months ago.
Pastrnak’s six points are the most on the team, but that’s 17th in the league. The Bruins offense has come from throughout the lineup; Charlie McAvoy, a defenseman, has five assists. Hall is yet to break out, but his two goals have come in timely points.
4. Does the Islanders scoring pick up?
Shooting on Jarry is going to produce some goals, but reality is the Islanders offense still at times leaves a lot to be desired. Mathew Barzal had just three assists without a goal in the first round, and trade deadline acquisition Kyle Palmieri had just two tallies
The top line has been Anthony Beauvillier, Josh Bailey and Brock Nelson, but if the Isles are going to beat a team as deep as the Bruins they need their deadline acquisition in Palmieri, and Barzal, to start producing at a higher clip.
Beauvillier leads the Islanders with seven points. If he can keep up that pace or not, they still are going to need their elite guys like Barzal to have a big series.
5. Prediction: Bruins in 7
At another point this season, it wouldn’t have felt right to say the Bruins will — or even can — beat the Islanders in a seven-game series. As mentioned, though, something shifted.
Given that the Bruins have a true home ice advantage with fans back into the building, one has to expect an invigorated effort. They’re a much different team than they were a couple of months ago, and are arguably the hottest team in the league.
The Islanders will be more challenging than the Capitals, but it’s hard to see the Bruins roll slowed just yet.
Marisa Ingemi is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop her a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @Marisa_Ingemi.