Obviously, there is a lot going on with sports or maybe the lack thereof due to the Coronavirus pandemic that is engulfing the world right now. However, if we can step away from the thought of spreading germs and social distancing, we can talk about the prospect of a potential return to sports and Boston Bruins Hockey.
If the NHL playoffs were to start today, the Bruins would be playing the New York Islanders which would be a refreshing thing for the Bruins considering they had played the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round of the playoffs in each of the past two seasons. On paper, the Islanders would be an easier matchup than the Maple Leafs would be for the Bruins just based on overall talent despite the fact the Islanders technically have a better record. So let’s take a look at the Bruins potential first round matchup.
The Islanders on the offensive end haven’t been anything special this year as they currently rank 22nd in the NHL in goals per game with 2.78. The Islanders really only have one offensive superstar in Mathew Barzal. Barzal has 60 points in 68 games played this season and has been on of the most fun to watch forwards in the NHL since his rookie season just two seasons ago. Chances are if the Bruins can keep Barzal off the scoreboard, or minimize his production, the Islanders top line would struggle.
The biggest reason for the Islanders being in a playoff spot at this time is due to the fact that they have been top ten in goals allowed allowing 2.79 goals per game. Only two of the Islanders defensemen have a plus minus rating below zero and that is both Nick Leddy and Noah Dobson who are both negative one on the year. It’s fair to say that the Islanders have done a fairly good job at keeping the puck out of their own net.
The Islanders have gotten some average at best goaltending this year with their tandem of Semyon Varlamov and Thomas Greiss. In a potential playoff series it is most likely that Varlamov would be the starter as he has been the starter for the majority of the season. Varlamov currently holds a 19–14–8 record with a .914 save percentage which is typically numbers you would like to see out of a backup goalie. Thomas Greiss hasn’t been much better this season as he has a 16–9–4 record while holding a .913 save percentage. Although Varlamov has started more games this season, I would expect the Islanders to switch goalies based on who is riding the hotter hand.
Overall, the Bruins are the better team, no doubt about it. The Islanders’ talent is comparable to the Carolina Hurricanes last season who the Bruins swept when they met in the playoffs. The only thing that can stop the Bruins from defeating the Islanders is probably the Coronavirus. That and maybe the fact that the Bruins will be cursed with being named President’s Trophy Champions for going into the playoffs with the league’s number one record. Then again this is the NHL, and we have seen a lot crazier things happen, but that’s why we love them.