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Murphy: Bruins Ready To Get Physical In The Playoffs



Boston Bruins

Are the Boston Bruins morphing into the physical and nasty team they will need to be if they want to go deep into the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs?

After infamously being upset by the Florida Panthers in the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Bruins were able to beat the Panthers four straight times this season, finishing off the season series sweep with a 3-2 overtime win on Saturday. While they were out-hit 41-37 on Saturday, the Bruins still matched the petulant play of the Panthers, who used that petulance to pull off that monumental upset last spring.

As Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery stated in his post-game press conference on Saturday, he was doing his best to create certain matchups that would get under the collective skin of the Panthers, with one being the Parker Wotherspoon defensive pairing matching up against the always aggravating Panthers second line of Nick Cousins-Sam Bennett-Matthew Tkachuk.

“I thought they did tonight,” Montgomery replied. “We purposely matched them against Bennett and Tkachuk. They were physical; they were in their faces all night long, and I think that’s something that we’re trying to build within our team and the whole group is to be in more of people’s faces.”

Clearly, Jim Montgomery doesn’t want a repeat of what happened in the first round last April when the Panthers, and Tkachuk specifically, were able to rattle the Bruins with post-whistle shenanigans and questionable hits. That’s why, since reeling into his team two weeks ago and stating that they’re not ‘ready for the playoffs’, Montgomery has been paying closer attention to such matchups that can determine a playoff series and urging his team to play with more pain in the ass identity, to put it bluntly.

“I think everybody’s really comfortable with who we are, how we need to execute, the effort required, and the physicality that’s required,” Montgomery said on Saturday. “I think that’s where our group now has confidence – how to close out games.”

In a one-on-one interview with Boston Hockey Now this past Friday, new Boston Bruins winger and three-time Stanley Cup champion Pat Maroon discussed what it means for a team to play team-tough.

“I mean, there’s so many different avenues you can go on who’s being tough and who’s being soft,” Maroon said. “Winning your puck battles is playing heavy; winning your d-zone battles is playing heavy. There’s so many components than just the fights in the game. That’s just another attribute of the game. So for me, I think I look at it big picture instead of just the fights, and everything else. Winning your puck battles on the wall, being heavy on the forecheck, being hard on D, taking pucks, being heavy in the D-zone; that’s being heavy. That’s playoff hockey, being physical, and getting in guys’ faces.”

Maroon, like Montgomery, believes the 2023-24 Boston Bruins have been playing that way and can do so in the playoffs.

“So, I think I see that,” Maroon said of his new team. “It’s been fun to watch. They’re a fast-paced team with a lot of transition, and a lot of power offense too. So, I’m really excited to get out there with the guys and be part of it.”

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