By Mathew Cunha,
The Bruins are 16-3-2 in their last 21 games and have surged to fourth place in the Eastern Conference. With the season half over, this can no longer be written off as a small sample size and the Bruins should be considered true contenders. Even more so than the first seeded Boston Celtics. That’s not a typo. The Boston Bruins have a better chance than the Celtics of raising a banner to the rafters at T.D. Garden.
The Celtics had a 16-game win streak earlier in the season en route to a healthy lead in the Eastern Conference. With a bonafide superstar in Kyrie Irving, a seasoned vet in Al Horford, and the young studs of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, the C’s are loaded with potential. However, that’s all it is for the 17-18 season. Potential.
The Celtics are better than the Bruins, but the path to the championship is clearer for the Bruins. Without Gordon Hayward, the path is closed for the Celtics. The C’s will likely have to knock off both LeBron and the Cavs and the dynastic Golden State Warriors. LeBron has not lost an Eastern Conference series since his original stint with the Cavs, when he fell to KG, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and the C’s in 2010.
If the Celtics were to get by the Cavs, then they would have to beat the Warriors, four times. It’s safe to say the Celtics are not winning the NBA championship in 2017-18. Meanwhile, the Bruins are 11 points above the playoff line and sit in 2nd place in the Atlantic division. With the 2nd and 3rd place finishers in each division facing off, the Bruins are likely to face Toronto in the first round. The 1st place Lightning are 10 points above the B’s, while the 4th place Panthers trail the Leafs by nine points.
The young Leafs don’t feature the experience that some of the Bruins would carry into a potential series. The Bruins, playing out of their division, would likely face Steven Stamkos and the Tampa Bay Lightning in the second round, who the Bruins defeated earlier this season. Despite a fair share of talent, the Lightning aren’t as formidable an opponent for the B’s as the Cavs would be for the C’s. In 95 games played, the Bruins are 61-24-9 all-time vs the Lightning including a 4-1 record since last season. Simply put, they tend to have their number.
The conference final would be against the team coming out of the metro division. Except for the Capitals, (who haven’t been to a conference final in the Ovechkin-era), not one of those teams scare you with the Penguins outside of the playoff structure. The West is currently led by the expansion Golden Knights and a barrage of other teams who have seen a lack of consistent success outside the Kings. Normal powerhouse Chicago is out of the playoff structure as well.
As wholes, the Celtics are more talented than the Bruins, and it’s probably a guarantee they make the conference finals. But that’s the limit. If the upstart Bruins can break past the first rounds, the lack of a true powerhouse and the parity of the NHL opens the door for a potential cup run.
Matthew Cunha is a producer of The Drive, weekdays 4pm to 6pm on 92.9fm The Ticket and streaming live at DriveShowMaine.com. Follow us on Twitter, @DriveShowMaine and “Like Us” on Facebook, Drive Show Maine.