Going into Sunday’s matchup, it was do-or-die for both the Boston Bruins, and the Florida Panthers. One team would move on to move to play the Toronto Maple Leafs, the other off to the golf course.
Much like Game 5, however, three periods was not enough to settle this one as the Panthers tied the score at three goals apiece with 59.4 seconds left in the third period off the stick of Brandon Montour – silencing the TD Garden faithful.
After both teams traded chances, at the 11:25 mark in overtime, Carter Verhaeghe took a wrist shot and beat Jeremy Swayman on the glove side, ending the Bruins season, and sending the Bruins to the offseason much more prematurely than many would have expected.
Here are some takeaways from the Game 7 loss.
Starting Swayman was the right call
Throughout the entire regular season, Boston would go one game with Linus Ullmark in net, and the next with Swayman or sometimes, two with one, and then a few with the other. Usually it worked, as the Bruins didn’t lose more than two games in a row all season.
For some reason, in the playoffs, head coach Tim Montgomery decided to mix up the pattern that had worked for them all season. Why he did that, nobody knows. As the old saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, and it was far from broken. After all, they had just shattered every single team accomplishment in NHL history.
The decision to play Swayman in Game 7, however, was the right one as he made stops when he needed to, made clean entries into the zone himself when he needed to, and he even played the puck behind the net with confidence. He even stopped 32 of 36 shots – ten short of Ullmark’s total from Game 4 total of 42.
The Bruins are human after all
All season, Boston looked like the team that nobody wanted to face, but Florida was up to the task and were able to exploit one of their biggest struggles towards the end of the season: the power play.
The Panthers were able to take the Bruins to task and knocked them down a few pegs, and brought their man-advantage percentage down into the 30’s.
Florida was also able to shut down Boston’s top scorers in David Pastrnak, Taylor Hall, and Brad Marchand to just 11 goals between the three of them, and keep in mind there were 27 on the team total.
We may have seen the last of Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci
After the game, and the ceremonial shaking of hands, the Bruins saluted crowd for the final time during the 2022-23 season.
The players all hugged each other, one by one, and as customary, the last one to leave the ice was the captain – Bergeron. Some hugs were a generic hug, some were prolonged, but two stood out to those observing.
His hugs with fellow center David Krejci, and Marchand were a bit longer than the others – in fact Marchand’s included a few tears.
Bergeron played through an injury
After the game, it came out that Bergeron had been playing through an injury. The fact that he was injured in the first place, but the fact that he came back to play.
As reported by Ty Anderson of 98.5 the Sports Hub, it turns out he played with a herniated disc.
To many, this further proves that Bergeron could be retiring. He could very well have rested in the first round, but he saw it as an opportunity to come out and play a Florida team that was giving them a run for their money.
Now, it’s time to move on to the offseason. What they will do in the offseason, remains to be seen.