2023 NHL Playoffs First Round Series Preview: Boston Bruins vs Florida Panthers

Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

2023 NHL Playoffs First Round Series Preview: Boston Bruins vs Florida Panthers


2023 NHL Playoffs First Round Series Preview: Boston Bruins vs Florida Panthers


Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

The Boston Bruins had the most successful regular season in the history of the NHL. 135 points and 65 wins is no joke, especially for a team like Boston who has been successful for so long. They’ve earned home-ice advantage throughout the entire playoffs and are prepared to take on the Florida Panthers, who finished with the second Wild Card spot. Florida for most of this season looked dead in the water. That is until the last month of the regular season where they turned on the jets and squeezed in by the skin of their teeth. With the help of an unexpected hero in Alex Lyon between the pipes, the Panthers went 6-1-1 with him in net as he posted a 1.87 goals-against average and .943 save percentage since March 29. Both teams have earned their playoff positions in different yet important ways. And despite the best regular season team ever going up against a team who barely made it in, this series will have more to it than meets the eye. 

Head-To-Head Matchup:

The Bruins went 2-1-1 against the Panthers during the regular season, having scored the second most goals against an opponent this season with 17. But the Panthers never made life easy on Boston. Despite this, the Panthers scored the most goals (15) of any opponent the Bruins. The Bruins started the season series with their Atlantic Division foes with a 3-0 win in game three of the regular season. The Panthers claimed a 5-2 win a month later. The Bruins punched back with a 7-3 decision on December 19. Florida pushed back with a 4-3 overtime win on January 28. Florida has been an excellent offensive team, having the fifth best at 3.51 goals per game this season. This will only be the second matchup between the two franchises in the playoffs. Both teams possess a ton of size and skill, but Boston has a very clear edge with their depth. 


What to Watch:

Bruins: Depth Throughout the roster

Outside of their obvious star talent in David Pastrnak (who had a career year), Patrice Bergeron, and Brad Marchand, Boston is filled to the brim with talent throughout their roster. Very few teams in the NHL can even consider having the luxury of depth the Bruins have this year. Up front, Pavel Zacha and Jake DeBrusk stepped up big time this year with their scoring and earned their way into the top six. Taylor Hall, Charlie Coyle, and Tyler Bertuzzi remained as crucial and steady veteran players who filled their role despite playing lower in the lineup. Defensively, Charlie McAvoy and Hampus Lindholm have been rock stars on both ends of the ice. The rest of the defense between Matt Grzelcyk, Brandon Carlo, Connor Clifton, and Dmitry Orlov have done their due diligence to maintain the best defense in the NHL. With a roster like this, it’s hard to think if they’ll ever lose.


Panthers: Matthew Tkachuk

Matthew Tkachuk has been everything the Panthers could have wanted and more. Tkachuk proved that he could score at an elite rate without any serious help like he had in Calgary. Clearing the 100-point mark with ease (without Johnny Gaudreau as a linemate) and finishing behind only Connor McDavid in average GSVA? That’s next-level, Hart finalist-caliber stuff, and certainly worth the $76 million contract he signed last year. He is the potential franchise caliber guy the Panthers have needed. Now, he is going to be relied upon a lot to get the Panthers through this series.


Series Prediction

The Boston Bruins beat the Floria Panthers 4-1


Even with the success of Alex Lyon and the former playoff success Sergei Bobrovsky has had, I don’t think they will be able to handle the Bruins in the playoffs. The Panthers are not going to go down without a fight and most of these games are going to be close, one goal games. But the sheer number of weapons the Bruins have throughout their lineup compared to Florida is frightening. The President’s Trophy curse is real, and we saw it happen in 2019 when the Columbus Blue Jackets upset the Tampa Bay Lightning, it could surely happen with the Bruins here against the Panthers. The Bruins have shown up all year and have proven to be one of the best teams on home ice, with that in mind, they should be able to take care of the Panthers in five games.


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