Bruins host well-rested Blue Jackets in Game 1
The Boston Bruins barely caught their breath after an exhausting seven-game first-round series before talk shifted to their next opponent: the well-rested Columbus Blue Jackets.
That second-round series, after all, begins in Boston on Thursday night.
"I don't mind the quick turnaround necessarily when you're playing well," Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said after his team's 5-1 victory Tuesday against rival Toronto in Game 7.
"Our last two games we have played well. I thought the start of this series we had time off, we rested players. We had a couple of practices and all of a sudden maybe it's too much information. I think they were overloading. This way they won't be able to get so (overloaded)."
While the Bruins rallied from three separate series deficits to oust the Maple Leafs, the Blue Jackets have been idle since April 16 after sweeping the Presidents' Trophy-winning Tampa Bay Lightning.
Columbus has won 11 of its last 12 games dating back to the regular season, with its lone setback being a 6-2 decision against Boston on April 2.
Brad Marchand collected a goal and an assist in that contest and had four and three, respectively, as the Bruins won two of the three regular-season meetings against the Blue Jackets. The 30-year-old scored four goals and set up five others in the first-round series against Toronto.
Boston's fourth line took over in Game 7, as Sean Kuraly, Joakim Nordstrom and Noel Acciari totaled five points to set up the showdown with Columbus.
"(The Blue Jackets are) playing really well and probably one of the hottest teams in the league right now after taking down Tampa," said the 26-year-old Kuraly, who starred at the University of Miami (Ohio). "They're going to be a really tough team."
Matt Duchene posted team-leading totals in goals (three) and points (seven) in the first-round series against the Lightning and scored three goals this year against the Bruins.
Two-time Vezina Trophy recipient Sergei Bobrovsky silenced some critics by turning aside 109 of 117 shots against Tampa Bay.
"I'm proud of Bob," Columbus coach John Tortorella said of the 30-year-old Russian. "I'm not saying some of the questions about playoffs were wrong. I have never backed away from that. I've asked the questions, too, about him, and I think it's a fair question as we've gone through it over the years.
"I think Bob has basically, for one round here, given (that narrative) the finger. I just think he's handled himself so well."
Bobrovsky split a pair of encounters with Boston this season to improve to 3-6-2 with a 3.90 goals-against average and .889 save percentage in his career versus the club.
Tuukka Rask, who captured Vezina Trophy honors in 2014, has a 9-4-2 record with a 2.67 GAA and .904 save percentage in his career against the Blue Jackets.
With the Lightning eliminated, the Bruins will have home-ice advantage in this series and the remainder of the playoffs.
Although Columbus dropped a 2-1 overtime decision in Boston on March 16, the Blue Jackets' 25 road wins in the regular season were second best in the NHL behind Tampa Bay.
--Field Level Media
Updated April 24, 2019