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How the Ottawa Senators and Boston Bruins Match Up

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Our round one preview continues with position comparisons

Ottawa Senators v Boston Bruins Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

We’ve polled the Silver Seven staff on how the Bruins and Senators match up by position and see who comes out on top.

Goaltending

Peter: I'll give it to Anderson over Rask, although it's probably a lot closer than I'm imagining. But Andy's playoff stats are ridiculous.

Trevor: I've always been a fan of Rask, but the past two seasons he's been pretty average. I think Anderson can steal a few games, as he's proven that he can make the big saves in the playoffs. I'll take Anderson.

Callum: This one is actually a lot closer than you'd think. Anderson is having a career year (let's be honest, that 94.1 SV% in 24 games during the lockout season doesn't count) and he's always better in the playoffs, but Rask has been one of the best goalies in the league during the final stretch of the regular season. I'll give this one to Anderson, but by a hair.

Ross: I give this edge to Ottawa. I'm a huge Rask fan - I think he's a top-three goalie in the NHL - but there are two stats that make me gives this to Andy. The first is save percentage: .926 (Anderson) vs. .915 (Rask). Andy's just had a better season statistically. The second is games played: 65 (Rask) vs. 40 (Anderson). Rask is coming in tired. Even though he's younger, very few goalies thrive playing 79% of their team's games. Part of why Rask did this is because Boston's backups have been terrible this year. Mike Condon has mostly played well, so if the backups come into play, Ottawa definitely wins this matchup.

Ary: Ross points out great reasons why Anderson has had a better season than Rask. They both seem to thrive in the playoffs though, with Anderson's putting up a .933, .933, .918, and .972 in his last four appearances and Rask with a stellar .940 and .928. It's a pretty even matchup re: starters, but Rask's extra games played and the Sens owning a decisive edge in backups makes me favour Ottawa here.

Colin: I can't help but think back to 2015 against Montreal and give the edge to Craig Anderson. Rask is a good goalie too, who's been heating up in the second half. But he still doesn't come near the amazing play that Andy has shown this season.

Beata: Rask is a fantastic goalie, but I'm gonna go with Anderson here. We've seen him shut the door in the playoffs before, and this regular season has been one of his best.

Adnan: While Tuukka Rask has had the better career, Craig Anderson has had the better season. Rask is still an excellent goalie though, so I will only give a very slight edge to Ottawa.

B_T: Close in numbers, landslide in emotion and personal motivation - gotta go with Andy.

Staff Verdict: Ottawa, unanimously

Poll

Which team has the Goaltending advantage?

This poll is closed

  • 60%
    Ottawa
    (306 votes)
  • 19%
    Boston
    (99 votes)
  • 19%
    It’s even
    (100 votes)
505 votes total Vote Now

Defence

Peter: Because of Karlsson, Ottawa would have this in any case, but that's especially the case with Krug and Carlo out of Boston's lineup.

Trevor: I was going to pretty much write exactly what Peter said, so...ditto.

Callum: With Karlsson, Ceci and Methot all healthy and ready to go for Game 1, there's no way the Senators defense isn't miles better than the Bruins' squad. Injuries on the away team's side helps even more.

Ross: If Krug and Carlo are hurt, Ottawa wins this easily. Even if they're in, Ottawa may have the better corps anyway. I'm not a huge fan of Ottawa's d-corps, but I will take them over Boston's pretty readily.

Ary: This is a pretty even matchup with everyone healthy, but Erik Karlsson's presence and Torey Krug's absence means that the Sens win this handily (even without Marc Methot). Chara still put up 30 points though and we know that Phaneuf - Ceci get caved when it comes to shot metrics. Really, the big question mark other than the play of Charlie McAvoy is whether Boston's depth players (McQuaid, C. Miller) can outperform Ottawa's (Claesson/Borowiecki, Wideman).

Colin: Ottawa should have the advantage solely off of having Erik Karlsson, and the difference should be even larger with Krug and Carlo out. One player to watch out for is Colin Miller, who's essentially the Bruins' equivalent of Chris Wideman.

Beata: Defense: I think with Krug out, Ottawa gets the edge. We've got our first pairing back with Karlsson and Methot both returning from injury, and I think Claesson-Wideman is a severely underrated pair. Assuming Boucher keeps those two together (which he might not, but one can hope), I think we should have the edge.

Adnan: Only the LA Kings allowed fewer than the 26.8 shots that the Bruins allowed this season. At 5-on-5, after accounting for score and zone adjustments, the Bruins were first in shot attempts allowed, first in unblocked shot attempts allowed and second in shots allowed. This is more than just the defencemen, and the Bruins have injury problems on defence, but I can't give the edge to an Ottawa defence that might have one top four quality defenceman.

B_T: Might have been close without injuries, the Sens having the high end and Boston having better depth. But Boston’s top 4 is decimated so this isn’t even close.

Staff Verdict: Ottawa, 8-1

Poll

Which team has the advantage on the blue line?

This poll is closed

  • 82%
    Ottawa
    (370 votes)
  • 11%
    Boston
    (50 votes)
  • 6%
    It’s even
    (28 votes)
448 votes total Vote Now

Offence

Peter: Boston, by a nose (LOL), though I think Ottawa's depth could be a difference maker.

Trevor: Ottawa has better contributors on the 3rd on 4th line, but if Boston loads up with Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak...Ottawa has nothing quite close. Mike Hoffman, Kyle Turris, and Mark Stone are great, but they aren't as dominant as those three. I'll take the group with the higher end players, which is Boston.

Callum: Ottawa's depth is definitely something to talk about now that the team is healthy. Having said that, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand may be the two best forwards in this series, so do you go with overall forward corps or star power? I'll go with the Bruins by a millimetre on this one.

Ross: This is Boston's. Bergeron is the best two-way forward in the game, Marchand finished top-five in points, and Ottawa can't quite compete with that. Mark Stone is severely underrated, but he alone isn't enough to tilt this in Ottawa's direction.

Ary: In terms of talent, the Bruins win this, but when it comes to match-ups, I think the (healthy) Sens may be deeper. When was the last time the Sens could run four lines comfortably, with Boucher favourites Pyatt + Wingels playing L4 with pseudo-T6 forward Zack Smith at centre (!!!). Four Bruins finished with 50+ points, and Backes/Spooner put up Brassard-like numbers playing in their T6. However, MacArthur and Ryan have the potential to outperform Vatrano and Stafford. Head-to-head battles have been pretty even throughout the season series: will the Sens newfound depth be enough to put them on top? I think so.

Colin: As much depth as Ottawa has, Boston's stars up front far outweigh those on the Senators. The edge goes to Boston here, although that could become even closer if David Krejci can''t play.

Beata: I'm giving the edge to Boston here. Bergeron and Marchand are both phenomenal, and though Ottawa's forwards aren't bad, they simply don't have the star power.

Adnan: With the return of Clarke MacArthur and the recent trades, I will give the slight edge to Ottawa due to depth. Boston's stars are really good, but I don't think Mike Hoffman and Mark Stone are too far behind.

B_T: I have to give the edge to Boston here on the strength of their top-end talent. If Krecji is out (or playing as an obvious shell of himself) it might bring it down to even.

Staff Verdict: Boston, 7-2

Poll

Which team has the advantage on offence?

This poll is closed

  • 20%
    Ottawa
    (89 votes)
  • 59%
    Boston
    (253 votes)
  • 19%
    It’s even
    (84 votes)
426 votes total Vote Now

Coaching

Peter: Gotta say The System, but really I don't know what Cassidy's M.O. has been... he sure seems to be doing something right.

Trevor: Boston's score adjusted corsi has gone down 4.5% since Bruce Cassidy took over, but they just have a higher shooting percentage under him. Guy Boucher didn't make Ottawa a great possession team, but I think that's more to do with player personnel. I'll Trust the System.

Callum: After every single game this season against the Senators, the Bruins have repeated the same message to the media: It's frustrating to play against Ottawa's style. And as much as I think Cassidy is still a strong coach and the team might actually be better overall with him, Boucher wins this round.

Ross: I think this is Ottawa's. Bruce Cassidy is inexperienced at the NHL level, and his system has mostly been "what Julien did but with a more-aggressive forecheck". I think if things go sideways, he may panic. Boucher is very systems-based, and has had the whole season to build a system around his team. He also doesn't tend to switch up lines in-game, suggesting he doesn't just panic. I gives this one to Ottawa.

Ary: Cassidy's been copying Julien's (good) structure, but he hasn't *been there* like Guy Boucher has. I'm excited to see him work with his new players.

Colin: I honestly can't say I know much about the differences between Claude Julien and Bruce Cassidy, and it's hard to tell how much of the previous system the Bruins have kept. I'll give the advantage to Guy Boucher, whose system at times has shown to have the ability to completely take over games.

Beata: How do you not go with #TheSystem?

Adnan: Boston should have the superior roster but Ottawa finished ahead. The Senators should be absolutely awful defensively on paper, but Guy Boucher managed to get them to league average in shots allowed albeit with a very defensive system. The Senators recipe for success has been to make it a relatively low event game, rely on above average goaltending and count on a handful of stars to create goals. It hasn't always worked, and they have been lucky with a lot of close victories, but you have to credit Boucher for getting this much out of the team. The Bruins went 18-8-1 with Bruce Cassidy, but this is his first NHL head coaching job since 2002-2003 so it is hard to form an opinion on him.

B_T: While the Bruins have those gaudy advanced stats, can’t forget the season series - not just the Sens sweep, but also that those stats were largely even across the four games. That’s #TheSystem in action, and Cassidy has not had an answer for it yet in the three of the four games he coached.

Staff Verdict: Ottawa, unanimously

Poll

Which team has the coaching advantage?

This poll is closed

  • 68%
    #TheSystem
    (268 votes)
  • 13%
    "I can’t believe it’s not Julien"
    (51 votes)
  • 17%
    It’s even
    (70 votes)
389 votes total Vote Now