The Bruins are flat-out overwhelming the Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference Final.
It’s coming from a lot of different places as Tuukka Rask is a far better goaltender than Petr Mrazek and his .808 save percentage through the first two games in this series. And Brad Marchand humbled Game 7 hero and Hurricanes captain Justin Williams by suckering him into taking a penalty and then mocking him with a captain’s “C’ hand gesture and pointed directions toward the penalty box. The Bruins scored a goal on that power play, by the way, to give them a 4-0 lead en route to the 6-2 blowout win over the Hurricanes in Game 2 at TD Garden.
But it’s the depth of Boston’s roster that’s steamrolling the Hurricanes in the series, and it’s been obvious in both games. The Bruins got three goals from their bottom-pairing defensemen, three assists from their third-line center Charlie Coyle and seven overall points from the third line while showing quite simply that their roster is far superior to a Carolina team that’s obviously not ready for prime time quite yet.
“I think this year because we’ve scored a lot more up and down the line it’s just a little easier to roll lines and look for your matchup, but roll lines and not have to over-extend skill guys. I think any team that advances generally gets some level of that where everybody’s contributing, where someone steps up in a different night. You’re not relying on one area, and we’ve definitely got that,” said Bruce Cassidy, when asked about his team’s lineup depth. “I mean, the Charlie Coyle line right now creates a big problem I think for the other team. Okay, you’ve got Bergy’s [Patrice Bergeron] line right out of the gate. You’ve got [David] Krejci, who’s a known playoff scorer now with [Jake] DeBrusk.
“Now you’ve got a third line to deal with, so usually getting your D-pairs out there it’s a lot of work to play against, you know, if you want to play your top pair against two of those three lines. So, it’s a big ask, and I think that’s a difficult ask as well, so it’s benefited us a lot.”
It’s all backed up by the numbers, of course. Rookie D-man Connor Clifton scored one of the two first-period goals to get the Bruins out on top early on a beautiful play where he had a wide open shot at the net after a Marcus Johansson bid got deflected to him. Clifton became the 19th different goal-scorer for the Bruins this postseason, which matches the franchise record set back in 1988 when the Bruins made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final against the mighty Wayne Gretzky-led Edmonton Oilers.
That’s as foolproof a piece of evidence as one is going to find of Boston’s depth, which was able to match the depth thrown at them by Toronto and Columbus in the first two rounds, but is clearly too much for a Carolina team that stumbled their way into an unexpected Conference Final berth.