The Bruins are back in the playoffs and taking on the Ottawa Senators in the first round. Game 1 is Wednesday. A few quick things on the series:
1. Ottawa plays that stupid, annoying, boring neutral zone trap defense that the Devils were famous for playing back in the day. Essentially it is designed to take any kind of energy, excitement and fun out of the game. It's brutally difficult to watch as a consumer. Ottawa getting any further than this in the playoffs is a ratings disappointment for the league, despite the Canadian market.
2. The Bruins didn't beat Ottawa at all during the regular season, but I think with more time to prepare for this stupid trap the better they'll be against it as the series progresses. Their special teams on both sides is vastly superior to Ottawas and if the Bruins can't figure out that stupid, dumb trap they're going to need the power play to produce.
3. Do we know if these games are on NESN? Because look...Jack Edwards is a very solid broadcaster. I've had the pleasure of meeting him and he is an exceptional human being - one of the best. But if I have to hear him say "oat-ah-WAAAAAAAH" for 7 games I'm going to lose my mind. Or just go to the radio broadcast.
Now...Torey Krug's status for the entire playoffs is in doubt and Brandon Carlo was the latest blue liner to get hurt recently, which could force him to miss some time. Not only does it look like Joe Morrow might have to play again for the first time for what feels like since the Obama Administration, but the B's might have to call on my favorite minor league player in history, Tommy Cross.
Tommy is a career minor-leaguer to this point not because he belongs down there, but because the Bruins haven't given him a shot. He's way more defensively sound than Kevan Miller, and moves better than Adam McQuaid. Yet locking up those two players long term for some reason has forced Cross to stay in Providence.
So what's he been up to down in Rhode Island? Oh, putting up a career-best 35 points while being a PLUS-21 on a team battling for playoff position in what is undoubtedly the most competitive division in the AHL. He just passed the 200 AHL games plateau in roughly 6 seasons. He was the captain at Boston College, he's been the captain in Providence, he's 6'3", only 27 years old and his mental awareness is by far his strongest quality. There's a reason the Bruins had the plan of to keep Charlie McAvoy down in the minors (besides the contract situation). It was so he could grow and learn and play big minutes next to a guy like Cross while the P-Bruins look to make a strong playoff run.
Cross doesn't have blazing speed or an absurd slap shot. He'll hit you and he'll certainly fight you, but he's not this massive physical presence. But he's a true leader of Men. He's a mentor to young talent, a negotiator with officials, and he let's his opponents know what will and won't be tolerated. He's handsome enough to attract the female viewer. He seems like a guy Bill Belichick would want. And he just might help solidify this Bruins defense throughout the first round...if they actually give him the chance, that is.