Despite missing captain Patrice Bergeron, the Boston Bruins opened their NHL playoff season with a 3-1 victory over the Florida Panthers on Monday night. Bruins coach Jim Montgomery was happy with his team’s first-period effort, but admitted that the players’ nervousness hindered their intensity, particularly in the second period. Boston got goals from David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand, and Jake DeBrusk. The Bruins were missing captain Bergeron, who was a game-time decision due to illness, but Montgomery said his absence was felt.
Bergeron’s absence wasn’t enough for the Panthers
There have been Boston Bruins teams in the past for whom the news on Monday would have been a death blow. Because of sickness, Patrice Bergeron, the captain and top-line center, will miss Game 1 of the Eastern Conference First Round against the Florida Panthers. That is not the case with the Bruins. The Bruins handled the news of Bergeron’s absence well, winning 3-1 against the Panthers at TD Garden. Coach Montgomery praised his team’s depth and leadership, emphasizing that his players stood up in Bergeron’s absence. The Bruins’ supporting players made notable contributions, with Tyler Bertuzzi, Charlie Coyle and Pavel Zacha playing key roles. The Bruins will aim to build on this victory and continue their winning form, despite the potential return of Bergeron.
The Boston Bruins were optimistic entering into their first playoff game against the Florida Panthers, having set NHL regular-season records for victories and points. Despite their positive attitude, they admitted to having opening-night playoff nerves, which hindered their energy. Marchand admitted that nerves are natural, but he believed that the team’s nervous excitement could be used to build on what they had accomplished all year. Coach Montgomery praised the team’s first six minutes, but admitted that the intensity of the playoffs caught his players off guard.
The Bruins’ opening playoff victory over the Panthers was not always pretty, but it was effective. The Bruins had to rely on their depth to fill the void left by Bergeron’s absence. The Bruins’ supporting players made significant contributions, with Bertuzzi’s silky no-look backhand pass setting up Pastrnak’s goal, Coyle’s tireless performance creating matchup nightmares, and Zacha scoring DeBrusk’s first-ever playoff point. The Bruins’ fourth line also made a huge impact, killing time and eliminating any possibility of a Panthers comeback. As the playoffs advance, the Bruins will want to add depth and supporting players, certain that they can overcome any absences or injuries.
The Bruins’ victory over the Panthers was a testament to their team spirit and resilience. While missing their captain could have been a significant blow, the Bruins were able to rely on their depth to secure a win. While the Bruins will undoubtedly be pleased to have secured a victory in the opening game of the playoffs, they will know that there is still work to be done. Montgomery wants to see a better effort in front of his goalie, and the club as a whole will need to improve if they are to advance farther in the playoffs…not just one line. And the guys who were given more chances tonight took advantage of them. They took advantage of the situation.”
Terrific game by Ullmark
Ullmark was one of those players, who was a game-time decision due to illness and injuries, but came up with 31 saves to keep the game alive. Ullmark’s performance served as a reminder that the Bruins had two capable goalies in Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman, who took over as starting late in the season.
Even though they won, the Bruins were not totally satisfied with their performance. Montgomery admitted that the team was nervous at first and was taken aback by the intensity of playoff hockey. Marchand stated that the club turned the puck over too many times in the neutral zone and lost focus in the second period.
“There are definitely areas that we need to clean up and improve upon,” said Marchand. “But it’s a good start, and we’ll take the win.”
The Bruins will look to build on their Game 1 win in Game 2 on Wednesday night. With or without Bergeron, they’ll look to continue their strong play and take a commanding lead in the series before heading to Florida for Games 3 and 4.