On Saturday afternoon, the Boston Bruins beat the Detroit Red Wings 4-2, in turn icing off a 4-1 first round series victory. The win turned out to be an epitome of the Bruins way, and showed the world why they have to be considered the favorites to win the Stanley Cup.
From start to finish the Bruins were the more physically imposing team, which reared its head in their 32-21 advantage in hits. Zdeno Chara is the clear leader when it comes to wearing down opposing forwards by never missing an opportunity to dole out a hit, but the likes of Kevan Miller, Matt Bartkowski and Johnny Boychuk have all joined in on the captain’s initiative. When combined together over the series, Detroit found it impossible to find time and space, and it is difficult to envision other teams faring much better.
And while brute force can get you some places, the likes of Brad Marchand, Jarome Iginla and David Krejci illustrated the advantage of having an offensive unit that grinds all game, which played itself out to the tune of a 12-4 takeaway advantage. Overall, Boston simply overwhelmed Detroit with its relentless physicality in all three ends of the ice on the way to a relatively comfortable 4-2 win, and, moreover, to four straight wins after a Game 1 loss.
There is really no team that can match the physicality and relentlessness of Boston, but what may separate them from the pack is the magnificent play of Tuukka Rask. The 27-year-old is arguably the best goaltender in the NHL today, and he flashed his dominant lateral ability and glove hand while fending off 31 shots Saturday afternoon. On a larger scope, Rask compiled a 96.1 save percentage and 1.16 GAA for the entirety of the series, serving as the ultimate equalizer as Boston compiled a 90% penalty kill percentage during the opening series.
Boston is set to face the Montreal Canadiens in the second round, which will surely be a series full of hits, fights and physical brutality from both sides. This type of series would appear to suit the Bruins perfectly, who are rolling, and seem to relish the prospect of playing spring hockey. In fact, there is no team better prepared to win the Stanley Cup right now than the Bruins, and for that reason alone they are the clear favorites.