It was clear from early on in the season that this Boston Bruins squad would be a powerhouse once the postseason rolled around. Aside from the Presidents’ Trophy curse, there are very few things in the way of the record-smashing Bruins, who finished the regular season with 65 wins, the most in NHL history. After topping some quality opponents like the Toronto Maple Leafs and New Jersey Devils during its final five-game stretch, Boston’s focus has shifted to the Florida Panthers — its first-round opponent in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The Bruins, who finished the season an astonishing 43 points ahead of the Panthers, are heavy favorites to advance to the next round, primarily thanks to its stellar play at all levels of the ice, allowing the least amount of goals per game (2.1) and scoring the second-most goals per game (3.7). Florida did present some issues during the regular season, however, and managed to steal two games to make it an even 2-2 season series record.
The playoffs got started on Monday, Apr. 17, when Boston came out on top in Game 1, winning 3-1 thanks to a stellar night in net from Linus Ullmark, who stopped 31-of-32 shots for a save percentage of .969. Florida finished the season with the highest shots for average (36.8), so the strong goaltending from both Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman will need to continue in the postseason.
Top Goal Scorer: David Pastrnak — 61 goals (Patrice Bergeron and Jake DeBrusk tied for second with 27 goals)
Top Point Getter: David Pastrnak — 113 points (Brad Marchand finished second with 67 points)
Top Goaltender: Linus Ullmark — 40-6-1 record, 1.89 goals against on average (GAA), .938 save percentage
Bruins upcoming schedule for Round 1:
- GAME 2: Wednesday, April 19 vs. Florida
- GAME 3: Friday, April 21 @ Florida
- GAME 4: Sunday, April 23 @ Florida
- GAME 5: Wednesday, April 26 vs. Florida (if necessary)
- GAME 6: Friday, April 28 @ Florida (if necessary)
- GAME 7: Sunday, April 30 vs. Florida (if necessary)
Bruins DraftKings Fantasy Preview for Round 1
Injury Update: Patrice Bergeron (upper body) missed Game 1 and is considered questionable for Game 2.
- Across the final 20 regular-season games, Boston finished with a 16-4-0 record and +21 goal differential, averaging 3.3 goals for and 2.3 goals against per game. In comparison, Florida finished with a 12-6-2 record and a +17 goal differential, averaging 3.8 goals for and 3.0 goals against per game. Across the last 20 meetings between these two teams dating back to 2017, the Bruins have a 11-7-2 record against the Panthers.
- Since Florida led the league in shots per game, it obviously deployed some top-notch goal scorers, particularly Matthew Tkachuk (40G, 69A) and Carter Verhaeghe (42G, 31A) who both finished inside the top 15 in goals scored. Both Aleksander Barkov (23G, 55A) and Brandon Montour (16G, 57A) acted as the primary playmakers despite Tkachuk still leading the team in assists. With Boston finishing as the second-best offensive team in terms of goals scored per game, Florida wasn’t too far behind tying for the fourth-highest goals for average (3.5).
- With Game 1 already accounted for, Boston plays at home on Wednesday, Apr. 19 and then plays the following two games in Florida. The Panthers finished the season with a 23-13-5 record at home but that shouldn’t faze the Bruins, who finished with a 31-8-2 record on the road. Florida has scored more goals (3.7) and also allowed fewer goals at home this season (3.1) but given Boston’s 3.9 goals per game while playing on the road, it shouldn’t be an issue to get the puck in the back of the net.
- Despite Florida’s impressive final stretch to snag the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, there are two clear weaknesses: penalties and goaltending. The Panthers finished the regular season with the second most penalty minutes and the Bruins took advantage immediately in Game 1 when David Pastrnak netted a power play goal in the first period. Alex Lyon (9-4-2 record) emerged late in the season to help the Panthers secure a playoff spot with solid goaltending, allowing an average of 2.89 goals against and posting a .914 save percentage. Lyon allowed three goals on 29 shots in Game 1, though, and with Patrice Bergeron (upper body) potentially returning to the Bruins’ top six, the difficulty will only rise for him and the Panthers’ defense.
(All stats as of Apr. 18)
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