2019 Stanley Cup playoff predictions: Experts make Bruins-Leafs picks


2019 Stanley Cup playoff predictions: Experts make Bruins-Leafs picks

Very little separated the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs in last season's first-round Stanley Cup playoff series, so it was no surprise the matchup ended with a dramatic Game 7 at TD Garden that the B's won.

Both teams enter the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs with improved rosters, and that's one reason why many experts are predicting another seven-game thriller between these rivals when they open their first-round series Thursday night in Boston.

The Leafs, perhaps more than the Bruins, have a lot to prove in this series. John Tavares was signed to a massive free-agent contract in the summer, giving the Leafs another superstar forward for matchups just like this one. Auston Matthews, one of the best young players in the NHL, also is looking to atone for his lackluster performance in last year's series. The 21-year-old scored only one goal with one assist in seven games versus the Bruins last spring, and his lack of offensive production was among the primary reasons for Toronto's early exit.

Toronto has amassed back-to-back 100-point regular seasons, and despite being early in its Stanley Cup window, another first-round exit -- even at the hands of a very good Bruins team -- would make this season a failure.

Judging by recent playoff predictions, the Leafs are getting a decent amount of support from experts around the league entering Game 1. One common denominator among the picks is most everyone expects a long series.

Here's a roundup of expert predictions for the Bruins vs. Leafs first-round series.

Joe Haggerty, NBC Sports Boston: Bruins in  7
John Buccigross, ESPN: Leafs in 7
Greg Wyshynski, ESPN: Leafs in 7
Emily Kaplan, ESPN: Bruins in 7
Kevin Allen, USA TODAY: Leafs in 6
Nicholas J. Cotsonika, Bruins
Dan Rosen, Bruins
Alex Prewitt, Sports Illustrated: Bruins
Jeff Marek, Sportsnet: Bruins in 6
Mark Spector, Sportsnet: Bruins in 5
Chris Johnston, Sportsnet: Leafs in 7

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Bruins-Hurricanes Simulation: Canes beat B's 1-0 on flukey goal

Bruins-Hurricanes Simulation: Canes beat B's 1-0 on flukey goal

The NHL season has been put on hold due to the coronavirus crisis, meaning we may have to wait a while to watch the Boston Bruins again.

As a way to make up for the loss of Bruins action, we'll be using the EA Sports NHL 20 video game to simulate each game on Boston's schedule until they finally return to action.

Previous Simulations:

The Boston Bruins were supposed to take on the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night at PNC Arena, here's how our simulation of that game went.

The B's fell to the Canes 1-0 on a flukey third-period goal that slipped by Tuukka Rask. 

Here are the game stats:

Three Stars of the Game + Game Stats

Anton Forsberg, Tuukka Rask and Andrei Svechnikov were the three stars of the game. The Hurricanes led in shots with 25 and they also had three power-play opportunities that they squandered. The Bruins seemed to have passed too much in the offensive zone and didn't take enough shots on goal in the loss when comparing the shots to their time on attack.  

Bruins Individual Stats

Charlie McAvoy led all B's skaters in ice time with 23:42 while David Krejci and David Pastrnak each had three shots on goal. Tuukka Rask stopped 24 of 25 shots in the loss, but the defense didn't help them out too much.

Hurricanes Individual Stats

Jaccob Slavin led all Hurricanes skaters in ice time with 24:11 and Martin Necas led in shots with four. Anton Forsberg stopped all 17 shots faced and the Hurricanes sneak by with a flukey goal from Andrei Svechnikov.

FINAL SCORE: Hurricanes 1, Bruins 0

Bruins Record (Includes simulated games): 47-16-14 (107 points)

*NOTE: We did not include Boston's games against the Buffalo Sabres, Toronto Maple Leafs or Florida Panthers in the simulation, therefore the simulated record isn't 100 percent accurate*

Next Simulation: vs. St. Louis Blues on Thursday

Be sure to keep an eye out for our Bruins vs. Blues simulation which is set to drop on Thursday.

We aren't the only ones enjoying sports video games to pass the time and get their competitive fix. Even the B's Anton Blidh is enjoying his time off with a little virtual sports action.

Phil Esposito set impressive Bruins goal scoring record on this day in 1971

Phil Esposito set impressive Bruins goal scoring record on this day in 1971

March 31 is a special day in the history books of the Boston Bruins franchise.

Hall of Fame forward Phil Esposito scored his 70th goal (an NHL record at the time) of the 1970-71 season on this day, becoming the first Bruins player to hit that goal-scoring milestone.

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Check out the graphic below for more information:

Esposito's 76 goals in the 1970-71 season still stand as a Bruins record for a single campaign.

Bruins right winger David Pastrnak was making a run at 60 goals earlier this season. The 23-year-old star currently sits at 48 goals with the season suspended due to the outbreak of the coronavirus. Pastrnak is tied for the league lead with Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin.

If the 2019-20 season doesn't resume or the league decides to go straight to the Stanley Cup Playoffs upon returning, Pastrnak would be the first Bruins player to win or share the Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy as the league's leading goal scorer since Esposito in 1974-75.