BRIGHTON, MA – The scary thought for the Florida Panthers is that the Boston Bruins weren’t even anywhere close to as good as they can be in Game 1 when it comes to playing like a full-fledged hockey super team.
Boston Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery attributed some of it to “nerves” after the 3-1 victory over the Panthers on Monday night where the B’s really didn’t look much like themselves until the third period. But just as much it was about the Bruins finally facing a wild card Florida team that had been fighting for their postseason lives over the last few months and jumped right into the playoffs operating at that highest level of intensity.
It took the Boston Bruins a couple of periods to match the speed and intensity of the Florida forecheck while being outshot 24-16 through the first 40 minutes of the game, but the third period seemed to be when Boston found their footing.
“The [Panthers] have done a really good job in their last 20 games of being committed to the forecheck and running really good routes and putting good pressure on you,” said Montgomery. “I don’t think there’s an area we need to improve, but also think we weren’t very clean and crisp offensively. Not only on breakouts but in the neutral zone and the offensive zone. I thought our defensive game was good; I thought our offensive game was really slow and a little lethargic.
“All together we did a really good job, the way we tracked [the puck]. We only gave up seven Grade-A chances. That’s gonna put you in a good position to win a lot of hockey games. Unfortunately, we didn’t get many more ourselves. That’s where we look at where we need to improve our game.”
🎥 Coach Montgomery on Patrice Bergeron's status for Game 2: "He's feeling better. He's questionable for tomorrow though…he's not gonna skate with the team [today]." pic.twitter.com/k22FLMQPos
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) April 18, 2023
The Boston Bruins finally busted out for 13 shots on net in the third period and rode goaltending ace Linus Ullmark to the win when he outplayed journeyman counterpart Alex Lyon, and provided plenty of evidence that even better things are coming for Boston in Wednesday night’s Game 2 at TD Garden.
“There’s always something you can take away from a game, and I don’t think we’ve ever been satisfied with any game we’ve had this year. But they’re a good team. We knew they were going to push hard, and they did. We started turning too many pucks over in the neutral zone, top of the circles, in the second period,” said Brad Marchand. “Kind of got away from our game. We do a better job taking care of pucks. Playing down low, that’s kind of where we’ve thrived all year. Hopefully, that plays more into our hands. Something we’ll dissect a little bit more tomorrow and go through. Both teams are going to do that. Make changes. Chess match playoff time.”
Truly, it felt like Florida’s chance to seize momentum in this series was during a Game 1 where the B’s weren’t fully up to playoff speed, but they weren’t good enough to grab onto that chance. And they’ve opened the door for the B’s to wrap a stranglehold around the best-of-seven series with another home win before the setting moves to Florida.