by Bob Morello
Bruins prepare for tough series
For the Bruins to start off their best-of-seven matchup with the Ottawa Senators with a solid 60-minute effort, and a victory would be the best scenario to begin the 2017 NHL playoffs. But, after missing out the past two seasons, to even have the chance to play in the first-round playoff is a victory for Boston. It has been a tumultuous season with the firing of Claude Julien, the promotion of ‘interim’ coach Bruce Cassidy, and the latter’s ability to take this team into a situation where they are at least playing, and not watching from the comfort of their home.
While no matchup is an ideal one that guarantees an easy series, the Bruins are fortunate that their opponent in the first-round is Ottawa, and not the Washington Capitals who finished the regular season by winning the President’s Trophy, awarded to the team with the best regular season overall record based on points (118). While the Bs were unable to muster a single win over the Senators in four regular season games, the plan is to mainly combat the Sens trademark neutral zone trap. Coach Cassidy is well aware of the trap, explaining, “They want to frustrate you into turnovers, mismanagement of the puck, they tend to want to win low scoring games.” It all adds up to if Boston’s rookie coach is able to devise a plan to beat the Ottawa trap system, and earn the initial victory in last night’s (Wednesday) opener. A possible key to snapping the trap might be accomplished by having quicker breakouts by Boston when coming through the neutral zone, puck management, and puck control.
The regular season had Boston finishing up 0-3-1 versus the Senators, with two of the games decided by two goals each, one by a single goal and one via shootout. Showing that they were never blown out should give the Bruins the impetus to push just a little harder, and earn themselves the needed victories to take them to the second round of the playoffs. It is hoped that 19-year-old former B.U. standout defenseman Charlie McAvoy, a 2016 first-round pick (14th overall), could give the team the boost they got when Torey Krug joined Boston in the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs, scoring his first goal in his debut game against the New York Ranger, giving them a spark that got them on a roll to the Stanley Cup finals. In the 2013 post season Krug notched four goals and six assists, a second youngster, 20-year-old David Pastrnak, is expected to excel versus Ottawa with his explosive speed and accuracy that earned him an impressive 70-point 2016-17 season (34 goals/36 assists). Also hoping to see action with Boston is another B.U. alum, center Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, the Swede was a 2015 second-round draft pick (45th overall).
Boston’s winning formula will rely heavily on the job Tuukka Rask is able to perform in net for the Bruins, as he will have to be at the top of his game each and every night to keep the Senators off the scoreboard. Despite the loss on the defensive corps of Krug and Brandon Carlo, plus the injury to Noel Acciari, the Bruins locker room appeared full of enthusiasm, that they hoped to carry into Wednesday’s opener in Ottawa.
Following Wednesday night’s game the Bruins will remain in Ottawa for Game 2 on Saturday, April 15, in a 3:00pm matinee. A return to Garden ice will have the Bs hosting Ottawa in Games 3 & 4, on Monday (4/17), puck drops at 7:00pm, with the Wednesday (4/19) game pushed back to a 7:30pm start. Game 5 (if necessary) will happen in Ottawa on Friday (4/21). Game 6 (if necessary) will be back to Boston (4/23), and a deciding Game 7 (if necessary) would be played on Ottawa ice April 26, with the start time for games 5-6-7, not yet available. Look for the Bruins v. Ottawa matchup to be a tough seven-game series with Boston moving on to the second round.
CHS baseball team opens with 3-2 win
The Chelsea High baseball team opened its season with a well-played, 3-2 victory over Minuteman Regional Tuesday afternoon at Carter Park.
Red Devil starting pitcher Manny Ortiz tossed six strong innings in a powerful performance, allowing just two runs while striking out 14 (of the 18 outs).
Manny also was a force at the plate with a double and a triple, scoring a run and driving in a run to help his open cause.
Anthony Gomez contributed to the offense with a pair of RBI singles. Eduardo Nunez earned the save by closing things out with a scoreless seventh frame.
Coach Alan Beausoleil and his crew were set to host Mystic Valley yesterday (Wednesday) and trek to Lynn tomorrow (Fariday) morning to meet Lynn Tech at 10:00 a.m. at Frazier Field.
The Red Devils return home Monday morning at 10:00 to entertain St. Clement’s and Tuesday morning to entertain Northeast Regional.
They will make the long journey to Lowell Tech next Thursday morning.