When the Boston Bruins found out that they were going to play the Islanders in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, it was quite evident to them that they were going to be very familiar with their next opponent. It’s not only because the Islanders and Bruins met eight times during the regular season, but the reality is that both teams are practically mirror images of each other.
“I think they have a lot of our attributes,” said Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy. “They want to be structured. They want to play with discipline. They have good goaltending. Their D certainly gets involved, but they want to play D first. They’ve got different lines that can hurt you. So, in that regard, we’re playing ourselves a little bit.”
The Bruins will host the Islanders on Saturday night (8pm NBC) in game one of a second round series that will determine the East Division representative in the NHL’s final four. The regular season series was a tight one with the Islanders winning the first five meetings while the Bruins captured the final three. Throughout the season, it was clear that there was some commonality between the two teams.
“There’s a lot of similarities in the teams in the way we play,” said Islanders Head Coach Barry Trotz. “It should be real hard-fought games. All of the games this year have been pretty close. They’ve been sort of hard-nosed games. Hopefully we can find a way to be on top.”
While the Islanders finished off the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games, the Bruins took care of the Washington Capitals in five games. The Bruins were one of the hottest teams down the stretch in the NHL, particularly after some moves at the trade deadline including the acquisition of forward Taylor Hall from the Buffalo Sabres. Hall, who produced very little in Buffalo, recorded 14 points in 16 games with the Bruins.
He’s certainly someone that the Islanders will try to keep a close eye on.
““It just gives them more depth,” said Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield of what Hall has meant to the Bruins. “I think that’s sometimes lost a little bit. When he was in Buffalo, maybe he didn’t produce but he’s a generational player and a first overall pick. He’s a really really good player.”
This will be the third playoff meeting between the Islanders and Bruins, but the first one in 38 years. In 1980, the Isles dispatched of the Bruins in five games en route to their first Stanley Cup. In 1983, the Islanders and Bruins met in the Wales Conference Finals and the Islanders were victorious in six games to punch their ticket to the Stanley Cup Finals and a fourth straight Stanley Cup.
In this series, the Islanders are ready for what is going to be a very tough challenge.
“They have an awesome (defensive) corps and extremely skilled forwards,” said Islanders forward Mat Barzal. “We got our hands full. It’s going to be a heavy series. It’s going to be an intense series. Just two good teams going at it. I’m sure the fans are going to get a good series.”
The Islanders and Bruins know each other very well and they should because they’ve seen a lot of each other in terms of head-to-head meetings and also the fact that they resemble each other. This should be an entertaining and long series with a plethora of twists and turns.