NESN Bruins analyst Barry Pederson checked in with Dennis & Callahan on Tuesday to break down the B’s first-round playoff series against the Maple Leafs .
One of the potential question marks heading into this strike-shortened season for the B’s was goaltending. During the 2011 Stanley Cup  run, Tim Thomas  was a standout. Now Thomas’ former backup, Tuukka Rask , is the No. 1 netminder. Rask proved up to the task, finishing sixth in the NHL  in goals-against average, third in save percentage and tied for first with five shutouts.
“This is going to be a very important playoffs for Tuukka,” Pederson said. “By most standards he had a very good season. I think he’ll be one of the finalists for the Vezina. He did not get enough support, especially through the power-play scoring and the offensive side. I expect the Bruins to have a little bit of an advantage over Toronto in the goaltending department, which is one of the reasons when we were doing our previews for the playoffs and who the Bruins would match up well against; I thought the Bruins would do much better on a matchup basis with Toronto and the Islanders vs. the Rangers and Ottawa. … The Bruins, when they’re successful, they attack. They come at you in waves. They forecheck, they put pressure on your defense, they have turnovers, they’re physical, they’re intense. Then they go to the dirty areas, that’s what I want to see.”
On offense, the Maple Leafs  are led by former Bruin Phil Kessel . The 25-year-old led the team in goals (20), assists (32) and points (52), ranking eighth, ninth and sixth in the league in those categories, respectively.
[Kessel] is a very important player and the key guy there will be [Zdeno] Chara,” Pederson said. “It could also be [Dennis] Seidenberg if they’re going to go after them that way. So far, obviously the stats speak for themselves. Phil has had a tremendous offensive season except when he plays the Bruins, and there’s one reason for that. It’s Chara. He’s that good defensively.”
On the Bruins’ penalty killing: “When you look at the last two Stanley Cup  winners in the Bruins 2011 and LA last year, both teams had anemic, anemic power plays. But their penalty killing was by far the best. It comes playoff time, there’s less power-play opportunities, it’s a situation where your penalty killing and your goaltending, because as we always know, your goaltender’s your No. 1 penalty killer; the key there is that you don’t give the other team any momentum.”
On Dougie Hamilton: “I’ve been very impressed with his knowledge of the game, also his positioning defensively. He’s got such good fast feet work that he’s able to control his gaps and do a good job. The only problem he has is the same problem that we saw with Tyler Seguin  when he came up. It’s just, it’s a young man against men and he’s just not physically strong enough. But as far as talent goes and hockey IQ, he’s right up there.”
On fights in the postseason: “It always seems to boil down to physicality, good goaltending, intensity in the playoffs. But again, there’s that real fine line that as an instigator, as a tough guy, as a guy that wants to go out there and play a certain way, you also realize that you can’t put your team down a man come penalty time in the playoffs because it’s just too important.”