The Boston Bruins are better than they were the last time they played the Tampa Bay Lightning. Well, according to Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy they are.
Boston is coming off 4-1 series victory against the Carolina Hurricanes, where they lost Tuukka Rask and had to deal with David Pastrnak being unfit to play for a majority of the series. But despite the challenges, the Bruins were able to weather the storm and ultimately come out on top; growing as a team in the journey.
“At the end of the day, we’ve grown since then [against Carolina], I think we’re a better team,” said Bruce Cassidy. “I believe I’ve had more playoff experience. Now it’s going to be two very evenly matched teams going at it. Each team is probably not 100% healthy but for the most part, we have strong lineups and are ready to go.”
Since the Bruins lost to the Lightning in the second round of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the feeling around the NHL was that the two teams were on a collision course and would mee again in the postseason but the Columbus Blue Jackets had other ideas in the opening round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Now, in the middle of a pandemic and uncharted territory, the two Atlantic Division rivals are ready for a rematch.
“I felt like it. I assumed last year would be the year,” said Cassidy when asked if he felt this matchup was inevitable. “I don’t think anyone saw the Columbus series coming. We assumed we’d get them in the second round. We took care of business, here we are the second round this year even though it’s a different format.”
With Rask out of the bubble, the Bruins will be leaning on a goalie in Jaro Halak that has yet to face the Lightning. Cassidy isn’t too worried Halak will struggle with any unfamiliarity though.
“As far as Tuukka goes, yeah, they’re good friends. Yeah, I’m sure Jaro will reach out to him if he feels there’s information there,” said Bruce Cassidy. “At the end of the day, he gets that information from Bob [Essensa] or from Tuukka and we’ll do some of that from our pre-scouts, some of the plays they like to run, where the shot will be coming from, etc. There is information out there. How much he wants is probably his call.”