From the NHL Newswire at 985TheSportsHub.com.
The picks are in. Bruins vs Leafs kicks off Thursday night as the Atlantic Division rivals square off in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the second straight year. And the 98.5 The Sports Hub staff is here to give you their picks for the series.
Ty Anderson, 98.5 The Sports Hub:
I can’t knock the hustle of the Maple Leafs. Knowing the Bruins own them, they added John Tavares and Jake Muzzin to the mix. But unless Tavares turns into a right-side defenseman, and unless Muzzin keeps the Bruins from straight-up pummeling pucks on net, the Bruins still have the advantage in this series. I expect home-ice to hold through the first five games of this series before the Bruins put ’em in the dirt in a Game 6 victory in Toronto. Bruins in 6.
Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com:
The Leafs did get a lot better offensively with the addition of John Tavares (47 goals) and added a legit defenseman in Jake Muzzin. But the Bruins are much better equipped to handle the Leafs defensively with Brandon Carlo finally making his playoff debut and Charlie McAvoy playing as well as he ever has in his young career. It could come down to goaltending, like Game 7 did last year. But I see the first four games playing out similarly to last season, and this time the Bruins take care of business at home in Game 5. No near-collapse this year. Bruins in 5.
Matt McCarthy, 98.5 The Sports Hub:
I expect this series to play out a lot like last year’s series: high scoring and wildly entertaining. Ultimately, the Bruins have too much firepower and the Leafs don’t have enough on the blue line to match that. The Bergeron line will eat them alive in this series. Bruins in 6.
Joe Murray, 98.5 The Sports Hub:
These teams always go the distance but home ice will be the difference. Bruins -140 to win the series. Bruins in 7.
Adam Jones, 98.5 The Sports Hub:
I think the Leafs will be a tougher out this year. I know they struggled down the stretch — to put it mildly — but the additions of Tavares and Muzzin are significant. That said, I’ve been calling this series a toss up for weeks. And the coin tells me to go with home ice. Bruins in 7.
Jim Murray, Felger & Mazz:
Death, Taxes, and the Toronto Maple Leafs crushing the souls of their fan base. I know Rask sorta sucks and is a liability, but I can’t see the Bruins losing to this team. Bruins in 6.
Dan Lifshatz, Over/Under 98.5:
Ultimately I my heart wants to pick the Bruins, but the bettor in me says take the Leafs. Despite the Bruins’ top line, the Leafs boast a better group of forwards, and yes, the better goalie. There’s no real argument to be made this year either. Frederik Andersen, who is usually the weaker of the two, has had a better year (statistically speaking) than Rask, with a far worse defensive grouping. Can’t really argue that. If the Bruins want to win this series, they will need to consistently keep the Leafs under 3 goals a game, which I just do not think they can do at this time. If these games turn into goal-fests, it favors the Leafs, and that’s exactly where I think we’re headed. Leafs in 7.
Mike “Sarge” Riley, Wrestling Inside The Ropes:
With home ice advantage and 29 regular season wins at TD Garden, I like the Bruins in the first two games. As nervous as I am with Torey Krug’s health, the B’s will have to ride the hot hand of the first line and Tuukka. More importantly, a confidence booster wrapping up the series on the road. Bruins in 6.
Ryan Johnston, Sports Hub Hockey Show:
I love the way this Bruins’ team has come together. They had some shortcomings last year, and probably still do. But there’s nobody that’s going to outwork them, including Toronto. The Leafs got better since last spring, but I’m not sure they improved in the right places. Adding Tavares to a team that was already a good offensive threat was a great move, but they still fall short on D and in goal. The Bruins have more than enough firepower to score on Toronto and Boston’s team defense will take care of the rest. Bruins in 6.
Bruins vs. Leafs: Sports Hub Staff Predictions
|Ty Anderson||Bruins in 6|
|Matt Dolloff||Bruins in 5|
|Matt McCarthy||Bruins in 6|
|Joe Murray||Bruins in 7|
|Adam Jones||Bruins in 7|
|Jim Murray||Bruins in 6|
|Dan Lifshatz||Leafs in 7|
|Tony Massarotti||Bruins in 7|
|Mike “Sarge” Riley||Bruins in 6|
|Ryan Johnston||Bruins in 6|
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