NHL Playoff Predictions: Ottawa vs. Boston

It’s the 90th anniversary of the super exciting 1927 Stanley Cup final matchup between the Ottawa Senators and the Boston Bruins, which makes this first round series mean that much more. The Senators won that battle in 4 games after winning twice and tying twice. Led by the heroics of one Percy Galbraith, it was the third and last cup that the city of Ottawa would ever win. Will the 2017 version of the team use the inspiration of the rag-tag group of Sens from 90 years ago in order to take it all this year? Unlikely, but let’s read on.

ATLANTIC DIVISION

2. OTTAWA SENATORS vs. 3. BOSTON BRUINS

OTTAWA:
44-28-10 98 PTS (12th in NHL)
Goals For – 212 (22nd)
Goals Against – 214 (11th)
Last 10: 4-4-2

BOSTON:
44-31-7 95 PTS (14th in NHL)
Goals For – 234 (12th)
Goals Against – 212 (10th)
Last 10: 6-3-1

A lot will be made of the fact the Ottawa Senators are the only team to make the playoffs with a negative goal differential, but they secured home ice in this series for a reason. And that reason was because they took a game to overtime 3 more times than the Boston Bruins. The Bruins are hot coming into the playoffs and with more goals and less surrendered over the season, the lesser seed are actually the favourites to win this series.

SPECIAL TEAMS:

OTTAWA:
Power Play – 17.1% (23rd)
Penalty Kill – 79.8% (23rd)

BOSTON:
Power Play – 21.7% (7th)
Penalty Kill – 85.7% (1st)

This isn’t even close. If the Bruins can carry over their top-ranked penalty kill, they are going to give any team in the league fits. Ottawa needs to figure it out and fast if they have any hope of making this a competitive series.
Advantage: BOS

GETTING THE PUCK ON NET:

OTTAWA:
Shots For – 29.6/game (20th)
Shots Against – 29.8/game (15th)
Shooting % – 8.4% (21st)

BOSTON:
Shots For – 33.2/game (2nd)
Shots Against – 26.8/game (2nd)
Shooting % – 8.5% (19th)

The Boston Bruins shot the 2nd most pucks on net during the season (behind Pittsburgh) and gave up the 2nd least (behind Los Angeles, who failed to make the playoffs). If they had a better shooting percentage, they could have been one of the best teams in the league, which makes them dangerous during these playoffs. If they keep it up and some of their shooters get hot at the right time, they would be a very dangerous team and might even make it out of the Atlantic to play in the Conference Finals. We’re a long way away from that though.
Advantage: BOS

HEAD-TO-HEAD:

Nov. 11 – 3-1 OTT
Mar. 6 – 4-2 OTT
Mar. 21 – 3-2 OTT
Apr. 6 – 2-1 OTT (SO)

INJURIES:

OTTAWA:
Mark Methot – Likely will miss Game 1 (Finger)

BOSTON:
Torey Krug – Likely will miss the entire 1st round (Lower Body)
Brandon Carlo – Will miss Game 1 at least (Upper Body)
Anton Khudobin – Day-to-Day (Illness)
Noel Acciari – Will miss Game 1 at least (Upper Body)
Jimmy Hayes – Day-to-Day (Lower Body)

SCHEDULE (ALL TIMES EST):
Game 1: Wednesday, April 12th: 7:00 PM (Sportsnet, NHL Network)
Game 2: Saturday, April 15th: 3:00 PM (Sportsnet, NBC)
Game 3: Monday, April 17th: 7:00 PM (Sportsnet, CNBC)
Game 4: Wednesday, April 19th: 7:30 PM (Sportsnet, USA)
Game 5: Friday, April 21st: TBD*
Game 6: Sunday, April 23rd: TBD*
Game 7: Wednesday, April 26th: TBD*
*If necessary

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FINAL THOUGHTS:

The Ottawa Senators are coming into this series as underdogs in a lot of people’s (including my own) eyes. They have the better record, perhaps the better goaltender (Craig Anderson posted some pretty insane numbers in his short season, 0.926 SV% contributed heavily to the where the Senators are this year, but Tuukka Rask is in the other net so this could turn into a goaltending duel quick) and the better defenseman (one of the best in Erik Karlsson). The Bruins did everything else better, especially in the second half of the season after firing coach Claude Julien (who they could see in the 2nd round if both Boston and Montreal advance), and that is why they are the favourites. As long as Brad Marchand doesn’t get himself suspended, the Bruins have themselves a deeper offensive core who have been here before. Bergeron, Krejci and Pastrnak, along with newcomer David Backes should be a tough task for any team, let alone the Ottawa Senators. Torey Krug and Brandon Carlo are big parts of their defense corps, so having them inured for much, if not all, of the first round is going to allow the Senators to score some goals and push the Bruins, but it won’t be enough. The Bruins will win this series in 5 games.

*All stats courtesy of http://www.hockey-reference.com

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