Well folks, it’s the New York Islanders!
We saw plenty of them during the regular season, but we’re going to see at least four more games of them in the coming week(ish).
The B’s and Islanders last played back on May 10, in the penultimate game of the season.
Weirdly, the last two opponents the Bruins played in the regular season end up being the first two they play in the playoffs (Islanders May 10, Capitals May 11).
Not a ton has changed with the Islanders since that May 10 game, but you can be excused for not following them too closely, either that game or otherwise.
So, thanks to Daily Faceoff and a few other sites, let’s take a look at what to expect in terms of a lineup for the upcoming series.
New York Islanders forward lines
Leo Komarov - Mat Barzal - Jordan Eberle
Anthony Beauvillier - Brock Nelson - Josh Bailey
Kyle Palmieri - Jean-Gabriel Pageau - Oliver Wahlstrom
Matt Martin - Casey Cizikas - Cal Clutterbuck
There’s a lot going on here.
That top line is loaded with skill, and then there’s Leo Komarov.
The fourth line is a true throwback, a crash-and-bang line that is sure to be on your nerves before we get too far into this series.
Then you have the middle six, which is arguably the most important set of forwards in this series.
The Bruins’ first line is better than the Islanders’ first line; the fourth lines likely cancel each other out, albeit with slightly different styles of play.
The middle six is where things get interesting. Any time you have your prime trade deadline acquisition (Palmieri) playing on your third line, you know you have some impressive forward depth.
I think it’s fair to say that for the Bruins, the second line vs. second line battle is a push at worst, and is likely tilted in the Bruins’ favor.
The third line, however, could be a an x-factor for the Islanders in this series.
With two noted Bruins killers in Palmieri and Pageau, plus a young talent like Wahlstrom (or someone like Travis Zajac, as Wahlstrom is a little banged up) on the same line, the Islanders may have an advantage over whatever third trio the Bruins decide to roll out.
It’s also worth noting that Barry Trotz may elect to shuffle things a bit against the Bruins, perhaps moving Palmieri up to really top-load his first or second line.
New York Islanders defense pairs
Adam Pelech - Ryan Pulock
Nick Leddy - Scott Mayfield
Andy Greene - Noah Dobson
It might not be what you expected to read at the start of this season, but defense should be a pretty clear area of advantage for the Bruins.
It’s unfair to say that the Islanders’ defense corps is bad, but it certainly isn’t one of their strengths.
Leddy is probably the biggest name to casual fans, but the Pulock-Pelech pair is the Islanders’ #1 for a reason: they’ve both continued to come into their own and can be effective in their own way.
Per Daily Faceoff, the Islanders’ defense pairs rank #22, #22, and #24, respectively, compared to their peers.
For reference, Daily Faceoff ranks the Bruins’ three pairs (in order) as #3, #10, and #22; basically, the Bruins’ defense is better than the Islanders’ defense across the board.
Of course, rankings aren’t written in stone, and numbers don’t win playoff games.
Still, it seems like the Bruins should have an advantage on defense in this series.
Speaking of an advantage...
New York Islanders goalies
While it may not be as clear an advantage as it was in Round 1, the Bruins should have an advantage in net in the second round as well.
For the Bruins, their goalie is Tuukka Rask, unless he gets hurt or lays the biggest egg in the history of eggs.
For the Islanders, their goalie is Ilya Sorokin, or Semyon Varlamov, or maybe both?
The Isles featured both goalies in the first round, with Sorokin winning all four of his starts and Varlamov losing both of his.
Given those results, it’s fair to assume Sorokin will get Game 1 duties; however, we’re still likely left with a situation where any Islanders loss triggers a mini goalie controversy.
I don’t think the gulf in quality is quite as wide as it was in the first round, but Rask is a better goalie than either of those two.
So there you have it!
The Bruins have a better defense corps, marginally better goaltending, and a forward corps that seems to be, at worst, only slightly better than the Islanders.
What does it mean? Hard to say.
Like many series, this one may come down to goaltending and depth. If that’s the case, you like the Bruins’ chances, but you might be a little concerned.