The first round series between the Boston Bruins and Florida Panthers has been great overall. There has been scoring, physicality, and fighting. These two division rivals have had heated contests all series long. We’ve reached the midway point in the series and the Bruins lead the series 3-1. Thus far, here are Bruins vs Panthers series trends that have been ongoing.
Bruins vs Panthers Series Trends
Injury Woes Pose No Issues
This trend is the most notable and for a good reason. The Boston Bruins have been without their captain Patrice Bergeron for the entire series. He has been skating on his own, but failed to make the trip down to Florida. Montgomery has said he will likely slot in Game 5. In addition, David Krejci did not play either road game and is unlikely for Game 5. Head Coach Jim Montgomery gave a definitive update on the two, which should be music to the fan bases ears. Starting goaltender Linus Ullmark must be battling something because he has been a game time decision the last three games. Panic could have set in without your top two centers, but this team answered the bell.
Just as they started the year with key players out, they did the same these playoffs. And like the regular season, they weathered the storm and overcame that adversity. They’ve won three out of four without their captain and two without either top two center men. That’s a testament to their depth and a set of statement victories especially in the playoffs.
What else can you expect from the Vezina front runner? Linus Ullmark has been everything you can ask for in this series. He has stood on his head time and time again, and almost got in a fight with Matthew Tkachuk. Ullmark has been brilliant and a large reason why they have won three out of four games. His level of play has been good. In the four starts, he has posted goals saved above expected of 2.25, -1.63, 1.46, and 1.89. In fact, he leads the league in that regard with 3.9. Game 2 was his worst performance, but so was the team as a whole.
Ullmark had his best start in Game 1. However, if not for him the doors get blown off in Game 4. Florida dictated the pace early and had over 10 shots before Boston found their first on Bobrovsky. In addition, he has a .926 save percentage and a .854 high danger save percentage. He got out-dueled in Game 2, but has been better than his opponent the rest of the way. In his first true heavy workload of postseason hockey, the bill fits.
Resiliency From The Bruins
Not every game is going to be perfect in the playoffs. A sweep is never guaranteed and you are bound to lose. Florida came into Game 2 and punched the Bruins square in the mouth. It was not a knockout punch, but a punch that left bruises. Just like in the regular season when the Bruins got punched in the mouth, they bounced right back. For example; when the Bruins dropped their game in Chicago 6-3, they went on to win seven in a row. That was just one of many separate seven game win streaks.
The Bruins went ahead and lost 6-3 on home ice in Game 2. Arguably the sloppiest performance of the year, the Bruins learned from that. After getting punched in the mouth, they went down South and won both games on the road. The Bruins have been resilient all year long and showed that again in their first round series.
Bruins Penalty Kill
If there is one trend in this series, it is special teams play. Entering the series the key matchup was the Florida power play against the Boston penalty kill. Boston has won this battle and has smothered the Florida attack. They have had their chances with the man advantage, but have no answer for the Boston defense.
Boston has remained near perfect on the penalty kill. They have killed ten out of eleven power plays. Boston has played extremely well and limiting them to almost nothing. They have allowed 19 shots, 21 scoring chances against, and 5 high danger shots. In addition, Boston has one short handed goal to add to their success.
After a Game 2 defeat, Head Coach Jim Montgomery did not mince words. Given the injury woes that have plagued the team, Montgomery went on to say, “”We saw Boston Bruins hockey today and whether Bergy and Krech were playing, we needed everybody to start playing. I felt that we had some passengers – tonight we didn’t have any passengers. So, that mindset was great to see.”
Ever since Montgomery made this comment (came after Game 3), this team responded again in Game 4. However, in the last two games contributions have come from everywhere. This has helped win two road games and send the clinching game back to Boston. Here are some notable contributions from the Bruins as of late.
The man that has been out for about a month, leads the team in points (7). Having the next man up mentality has proven to pay off. In addition, they heard the passengers speech and took that to heart. Since returning to the lineup, Hall has started to look like himself. He has skated well with the puck and uses his speed to drive his offense. Hall has not been afraid to take chances and go to the net either. His ixG is the highest on the team with 1.08.
Hall was a bright spot in Game 4. He went on to have a four point game (2 goals, 2 assists) and carried the load for the Bruins. For a guy who missed so much time, he has been huge this series.
Playoff Jake DeBrusk is back. It feels like an eternity ago he scored that game winner against Toronto in Game 7. Like the other guys on this list, DeBrusk has been a bright spot on this Bruins team. DeBrusk is coming off a two goal game in Game 4 and both goals were huge.
DeBrusk has had a rejuvenated season and starting to look like his rookie season self. He is playing with confidence and is enjoying himself out there. DeBrusk has five points this series and is thriving on the top line. He ranks fourth in ixG and has the second best Corsi For on the team. Good things have happened when he is on the ice.
There is nobody who is loving playoff hockey more than Tyler Bertuzzi. Since being acquired from Detroit at the trade deadline, he has been everything you can want. He is an excellent passer, can play physical, and has the scoring. His six points are second most on the entire team. In addition, his four game point streak finds himself enshrined in Bruins franchise history.
From an individual standpoint, he has the third most points at 5v5. Bertuzzi has an individual expected goals for of 0.74 (5th), and sixth in Corsi For and Scoring Chances. Bertuzzi is buzzing and has made some great plays for the Bruins. His pass to David Pastrnak on the power play and his tip in goal shine brightest. With key injuries out, Bertuzzi has shined brightly.
The Mayor Of Weymouth. This could be a glimpse into the future of Boston Bruins hockey. Life without Bergeron and Krejci has seen Pavel Zacha and Charlie Coyle see top six minutes. In fact, Coyle got to center the top line in Game 4. He only has one goal, but he made that goal count. Coyle best defensive specialist Aleksander Barkov for inside position for the tip in goal.
Coyle may not have the stats like everyone else does, but he has done the little things. Filling in for Bergeron is no easy task and those are heavy shoes to fill. Coyle has a Faceoff win percentage of 46.2% and is second with takeaways (3). In all situations, Coyle is generating 1.69 expected goals. His puck carrying ability has been on full display to generate offense.
It remains to be seen if Bergeron does play for Game 5, but Coyle has played his part in filling those heavier minutes.
Thus far these are the Bruins vs Panthers series trends. You can also say that the Bruins haven’t played at their very best, but they are getting the results in wins. Despite not being at full strength, they are piling up the wins. The next man up mentality has done well as it has all season long. Every player has embraced the moment. It will be great when Bergeron and Krejci slot into the lineup.
Boston will have the opportunity to close out the series Wednesday Night on home ice.