I've been a Bruins fan for years now, and let me tell you, the last couple have been a little rough for us in Boston. Out of the last 3 years, the only time we even made it to the playoffs was last year. Talk about a real disappointment from one of the original six. Not to mention we didn't even make it past the first round, falling to the Ottawa Senators (boo!) in Game 6.

But this year has been a different story. A combination of veteran players and a few new names climbing up the leader board have made 2018 a great year for Bruins fans. We might not have finished at the top of the Eastern Conference this year, but, it's turning out to be a great year for the Bruins and here's why.

Let's talk Marchand, Bergeron, and Pastrnak

This season has been a truly beautiful season for these three. Pasta leads the team in goals with 35, Marchy in assists (51) and points (85), and they both showed their importance in Game 1 on the road to the cup. In the regular season Marchand (13th on the leader board) had 8 game-winners, 8 power-play goals, and 5 overtime goals. Pasternak was 21st on the leader board with his 80 points and 5 game-winning goals.

I'll be honest, I have a bias for Patrice Bergeron; but it's justified. Although he missed a good chunk of the season due to an injury, Berg has always been an integral part of the team. During his 15 years with team, he has over 950 regular season games under his belt with just under 300 goals and over 700 points.

This year he has 30 goals, 6 of which were game-winners and 10 were from power-plays. Leading with face-off wins this season for the team (57.31%), the assistant captain, in my opinion, is the play maker for the Bruins' first line.

With Marchand and Pastrnak on Bergeron's wings, this line has immeasurable potential. Their chemistry on the ice is exciting to watch and you can always expect something from them.

I'm looking forward to what they bring to the team in the playoffs.

The Toronto Maple Leafs

Let's talk match-up. The only two teams left from the Original Six face off in the first round of the playoffs. For winning only once against the Leafs in the regular season, the Bruins had a strong start in the series with last night's 5-1 victory over the Maple Leafs.

Each team is pretty evenly split on their strengths, but in the end the Bruins' power play (4th in the league) proved better than the Leafs' penalty kill (11th in the league). Three of the five Bruins goals were from power plays, including one from the 5-minute major that took out birthday boy Tommy Wingels.

To summarize the goals in Game 1, Marchand started the B's off in his usual fashion, five minutes into the first, and assisted another in the second.

Backes netted the second goal, and game winner, with an interestingly angled power-play goal that ricocheted off of Andersen's pads. Pastrnak had the third goal, as well as two assists on the night. Kuraly tipped in a Pastrnak rebound from mid-air for an exhilarating fourth, and Krejci secured their four-goal lead just over halfway through the third period.

With the Bruins' 40 shots on net to the Leafs' 27, the Bruins came onto the ice with a fire that was unanswered after the first period.

Looking forward in the series

While the Bruins took Game 1, there could be a long series ahead, as both sides of round one know all too well. This article breaks some things down for this series and the other teams in the playoffs. But in my opinion, the Bruins need to look out for a few things from the Leafs, as well as focus on their strengths.

From the Leafs' regular season analysis, the Bruins should pay attention to the penalties they allow in this first-round series.

Perhaps preemptively learning from the Leafs' mistakes in Game 1, I think it's important for the Bruins to play smart and clean. The Leafs are 2nd in the league in power-play percentage and their strength on face-offs (6th in the league) is another area they have a slight edge over the Bruins in in terms of stats. Luckily, the Bruins penalty kill (3rd in the league) worked to their advantage on Thursday night, but the Leafs are not a team to take lightly, especially looking at their match-up record this season.

And let's not forget the newbies

While the veterans of the Bruins stole the spotlight in Game 1 for the most part, some of the Bruins' newest team members have proved themselves in the regular season and could potentially be that extra push the Bruins need this year to get to the cup.

A few names I'll throw out there: Danton Heinen, Jake DeBrusk, and Charlie McAvoy. These three have played with the Bruins for only one or two seasons but they're making themselves known. Heinen, center, comes in 5th on the team for points for the Bruins, has four game-winners, and has only missed a handful of games this season. DeBrusk, rookie left-winger, comes in 7th for points on the team and has five game-winners. Finally, McAvoy, recently recovered from an injury, has been a defensive and offensive powerhouse in his first season for the Bruins.

Hopefully the post-season road is a long one for the Bruins as they journey to the Stanley Cup Finals. We also have to look at the bigger picture and this article does a great job summarizing the Stanley Cup Finals ahead. I'm looking forward to seeing what Game 2 brings on Saturday in Boston.