Bruins set up well after big Game 7 win vs. Maple Leafs | News Coverage from USA

Bruins set up well after big Game 7 win vs. Maple Leafs

The 128-point Tampa Bay Lightning are eliminated. The Calgary Flames are also gone, along with the Nashville Predators, Pittsburgh Penguins and Toronto Maple Leafs.

Five teams with 100 or more regular-season points are gone, and as of this writing, the Washington Capitals and San Jose Sharks, two other teams totaling 100 or more points, needed a Game 7 victory to avoid elimination.

But the Boston Bruins will be in the second round thanks to a 5-1 Game 7 triumph against the Maple Leafs Tuesday at Boston’s TD Garden. No matter what happens in those other Game 7s, the 107-point Bruins will be the most accomplished regular-season team still alive in the playoffs.

The playoff bracket is set up to give the Bruins the same kind of opportunity for a Stanley Cup championship that they had when they last won in 2010-11.

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While the spotlight was rightfully on the Lightning for their NHL-record tying 62-win season, the Bruins put together their own impressive season, marked by consistency and finding different ways to win.

The most interesting aspect of the Bruins is that they boasts stars, but they don’t always need their stars to dominate to be able win.

That was true against the Maple Leafs. It wasn’t David Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron or Brad Marchand delivering key goals.

Joakim Nordstrom, Marcus Johansson, Sean Kuraly and Charlie Coyle, all considered bottom six forwards, scored the first four Bruins’ goals.

When it was a 2-1 game in the second period, the Maple Leafs mounted an impressive charge. Plenty of pressure in the Bruins’ defensive zone.  Decent scoring chances. In a post-game interview with NBC, goalie Tuukka Rask said he didn’t think his team played particularly well in the first two periods.

But the Bruins found a way to prevent the speedy, high-powered Toronto offense from finding the net for the tying goal. That’s why the Bruins were among the NHL’s most consistent teams. They don’t have to play a perfect game to win.

The Maple Leafs believed they played well for the first two periods, but they couldn’t find a way to win against a hard-working Bruins team.

The Bruins cashed in on a pair of Toronto defensive lapses to grab a 2-0 lead and that’s all they needed to beat Toronto for the second consecutive year in a Game 7 and the third time in the last three meetings.

These Bruins know how to hold a lead. Rask made important saves and Boston’s defense did the rest. The Bruins’ poise and grit is perfect for Game 7 success. They are a resilient group, proven by the fact that they trailed 3-2 in their series after five games.

Boston now readies for a second-round series (starting Thursday, 7 p.m. ET, NBCSN) against the Columbus Blue Jackets, the giant slayer who swept the highly favored Lightning. The Blue Jackets are technically the lowest seed in the Eastern Conference, but they are playing like a 100-point team.

They shocked a Lightning team that faced no adversity during the regular season. They won’t shock the Bruins and the Bruins aren’t likely to rattle like the Lightning did.

The Bruins faced plenty of adversity this season. They seem to thrive on it. They might even play their best hockey when adversity shows up. 


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