The National Hockey League's Stanley Cup playoffs are in full swing, and with the Boston Bruins taking on the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday evening at the Canadian Tire Center, the series is off to a tight start.
Stanley Cup 2017 Playoffs: A Closer Look at The Boston Bruins versus The Ottawa SenatorsStyle of Play: Boston Bruins vs. Ottawa Senators
The Boston Bruins play an offensive style of game and can excel even when shorthanded. They are one of the best penalty-killing teams of the season. Recently, they have also started to perform when they have man advantage. Of their last 19 games, the Bruins have scored in 12 of their games, meaning that the Bruins' powerplay is on the upturn.
The Ottawa Senators, on the other hand, play a tight game that isn't conducive for goal-scoring for either team. Their 1-3-1 neutral zone trap, while an excellent defensive strategy, doesn't allow players the freedom for fast-paced goal-scoring action. In fact, this style of play encourages both sides to look at their special teams more closely.
Pucker Up: Possession vs. Goal Scoring
As far as puck possession stats are concerned according to Puckalytics, the Bruins are far and away the better team concerning these crucial stats. They have a 54.68 Corsi For percentage at 5-on-5, currently ranking second best in the NHL for 2017. Whereas the Senators are ranked 22nd, with a Corsi For percentage of 48.54, and puts them at the bottom of the pack this year.
Once again it's their 1-3-1 neutral zone trap which is hurting the Senator's play and their chance at the Stanley Cup. 2017 has seen them struggling to keep possession of the puck because their strategy calls for them to rather give up the puck and then after the neutral zone turnover move in for the attack.
Giving the Boston Bruins possession will be suicide for the Senators' Stanley Cup goals, keeping the Corsi For percentage in mind, and the fact that Brad Marchand is currently on a hot goal-scoring streak and is the number one goal scorer since the beginning of the year. Not only has the Bruins' David Pastrnak achieved his career-high of 34 goals, but the team boasts with nine players who scored double digits thus far this season. In their last 24 games, the Bruins have scored 3 or more goals. Therefore, it would be dangerous for the Senators to allow them possession of the ball in the first place.
No Goals Here
The Senators have a stalwart goalie in Craig Anderson. This season Anderson was successful in shutting down the Bruins with a 4-0-0 record against Boston, including a 2-1 victory this past Thursday night. Anderson has proven to be such a solid wall of defense in the past, that the Bruins best shot at scoring against him is a numbers game and to create a blistering pace of traffic in front of his net.
Anderson made a welcome return to the team after taking two months leave as his wife was diagnosed with throat cancer. He has had a rough comeback, but with a team that is filled with injured players, it has become essential in this Stanley Cup series that every experienced player needs to do their utmost if the Ottawa Senators wants to progress post-season and move ahead to the second round of the 2017 Stanley Cup.
Tactical Match Will Result In Tight WinThe Bruins and the Senators are very familiar with each other's style. It is going to cost each team's coaches to devise a tactical strategy to offset each other's strengths. This is why the goalie and special teams will make or break these team in this series.
The fact that the Senators have beaten the Bruins this past season, and the Bruins are skilled offensive players and with more experience to boot, says absolutely nothing about who will come out victorious. Guy Boucher, Ottawa Senator's head coach, knows that this is only the beginning.
"For me, when the playoffs start, every game is a new story."[Featured Image by Elise Amendola/AP Images]