The Boston Bruins knocked the Carolina Hurricanes out in the first round of the playoffs for the second straight year. The Hurricanes appeared beaten down mentally, and to have given up towards the end of Games 4 and 5. Carolina blew a three-goal third-period lead in Game 4 and then coughed up a 1-0 lead in Game 5.
As much as these recent collapses speak to the fact that the Hurricanes “didn’t leave it all on the ice,” it also shows the ability of the Boston Bruins to wear a team down and grind out wins. The Bruins broke the collective wills of the Hurricanes, winning the series 4-1 to advance and play the Lightning.
The first-round playoff series between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Columbus Blue Jackets ended exactly the way it started: with Tampa Bay celebrating an OT victory. Columbus led 4-2 in the third period of Game 5, but the Lightning struck twice with less than eight minutes to go, sending the elimination game to OT.
Lightning C Brayden Point scored the series-winning goal on a backhand flip over Jonas Korpisalo’s head, 5:12 into OT. Columbus showed some serious grit in this series, but Tampa Bay exhibited true pedigree, sending the feisty Blue Jackets home.
Second Round Series Schedule (BOS Leads 1-0)
Sunday, Aug. 23: Bruins 3, Lightning 2
Tuesday, Aug. 25: Bruins vs Lightning, 7 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Wednesday, Aug. 26: Lightning vs Bruins, 8 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Friday, Aug. 28: Lightning vs Bruins, 7:30 p.m. ET – USA Network
Sunday, Aug. 30: Bruins vs Lightning– TBD
Tuesday, Sept. 1: Lightning vs Bruins – TBD
Wednesday, Sept. 2: Bruins vs Lightning – TBD
Check out the highlights from Game 1:
Bruins vs Lightning: Head-to-Head Regular Season
The Lightning finished behind the first-place Bruins in the Atlantic Division this season. However, Tampa Bay won four out of five head-to-head matchups with Boston, including the round-robin seeding game on Aug. 5. Still, with the Bruins having won Game 1, current NHL betting odds list the Boston as very slight favorites in Game 2.
Soon after losing Game 2 to the Hurricanes in Round 1, Tuuka Rask departed from the frozen Bubble. Rask left his teammates due to a family emergency involving his daughter. Jaroslav Halak slid right in for Boston, promptly winning his next four playoff games (including one vs. Tampa Bay).
Halak is 4-1 this postseason, with a 2.23 GAA and a .921 save percentage. The Bruins must feel really good about the way Halak has stepped up when they’ve needed him the most. Halak posted a stellar 18-6-6 record in the regular season and is primed to shine. However, there is a lot of pressure on Halak to perform. Backup netminder Daniel Vladar is a promising prospect, but he has yet to see the ice for the Bruins.
Andrei Vasilevskiy is the reigning Vezina Trophy winner. Although Vasilevskiy’s 2019-20 regular season wasn’t as dominant as last season, he still posted a 35-14-3 record with a 2.56 GAA and a .917 SV%. The “Big Cat” from Russia is clawing his way into form during this bizarre postseason.
Vasilevskiy was riding a three-game playoff win streak until he ran into Boston in Game 1 of their second-round series. Yet and still, Vasilevskiy carries a stingy postseason GAA of 2.08 and a .925 SV% into Game 2.
Bruins vs Lightning | Stanley Cup Odds
The Bruins entered the season with +1025 moneyline odds to win the Stanley Cup. Since then, Boston won the Atlantic Division and recorded the most points (100) in the NHL. The Bruins’ stock has risen, and their moneyline has dropped to +375 to win it all. Our sportsbook can fill you in on all of the current NHL betting trends.
Boston lost in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals last season to the St. Louis Blues. The Bruins also lost the Stanley Cup FInals in 2013 to the Chicago Blackhawks and hasn’t hoisted the Cup since a 2011 Game 7 victory vs. the Vancouver Canucks.
The Lightning have slid down on their Stanley Cup moneyline status since getting behind Boston 1-0 in this series. Tampa Bay’s preseason moneyline of +675 has jumped up to +800. The injury to star Steven Stamkos is also a factor.
Vasilevskiy was only twenty years old when his Lightning lost the Finals to the Blackhawks in 2015. The Big Cat still managed to secure a Game 2 victory, stepping up for an injured Ben Bishop. Tampa Bay hasn’t won the Cup since 2004 when they beat the Calgary Flames in seven games.
Bruins vs Lightning | To Win Series Odds
The matchup between Boston and Tampa Bay is pretty even, overall. The Bruins are favored to win the series now, mainly due to the 1-0 advantage they have on the Lightning. This represents a great opportunity to make money on Tampa Bay, who may surprise some folks. Here is the current NHL Series Pricing:
Boston Bruins (-220)
Tampa Bay Lightning (+180)
Prediction: Tampa Bay Lightning in 7 Games
In this epic series, Boston’s #1 defense clashes with Tampa Bay’s #1 offense. The loss of Rask will hurt the Bruins and goalie inexperience will play a role as the series wears on. I don’t believe that Vasilevskiy will ultimately be denied here. Stamkos may return in the tail-end of the series to give the Lightning a jolt of electricity at just the right time.
The Lightning also have the Bruins’ number, having taken four out of six games this season. Tampa Bay will win four more games vs Boston to advance to the next round. My belief is that the Lightning will face the Islanders (God help me) in the Eastern Conference Finals. These NHL playoff picks are so hot they’re melting the ice!