Bruins Beat: Bruins Start Second Round With a Win

Monday night’s contest was full of surprises in the Bruins’ explosive 5-1 win over the Florida Panthers, in Game 1 of Round 2. It was these same Panthers who were responsible for the loss of sleep in last season’s playoffs, not only for Boston fans, but also for coach Jim Montgomery, and a host of players. But the hockey gods were good to the B’s, as they were able to start this series with a strong effort, as the locals followed the Panthers’ 1-0 lead with five unanswered goals. The most impressive facts was those five markers did not come from the likely suspects (big guns), instead they came from Morgan Geekie, who tied the game at 1-1 in the second period, his goal coming just over a minute after Matthew Tkachuk had given Florida their only lead of the night. Defenseman Mason Lohrei came up big less than five minutes later with what proved to be the game-winner, and a 2-1 lead. Brandon Carlo then scored to rub salt into the Panthers’ wound when he put a blast behind Sergei Bobrovsky to extend the margin to 3-1. A late season addition to the Boston roster, Justin Brazeau, used the opportunity to score his first goal of the playoffs. An empty-netter from Jake DeBrusk, his fourth goal of the playoffs put the game on ice. This victory had several highlights – Jeremy Swayman was in net for his seventh consecutive start (5-2), and he proved the right choice by stopping 38 of Florida’s 39 shots, many of them high-quality scoring chances. A rare timeout called at 5:12 of the third period by Montgomery as the Bruins were doing a lot of running around, was key, as his forces answered by steadying the ship and scoring two goals. Despite the quick start the locals were able to muster, there is still a long way to go in this second round before they can celebrate. It was these same Panthers who overtook the Bruins at the end of the regular season to capture the top spot in the Eastern Conference by a single point in the standings 110-109.

Last night (Wednesday), the Bruins played game two (at press time) of the second round on Florida ice, and despite the outcome, Boston will return to TD Garden ice for games 3 and 4. Game 3 will be Friday 7:00pm, followed by Game 4 on Sunday at 6:30pm. A win on Wednesday  in Game 2 would give Boston their second win, and extend their second round record to 2-0. A loss would result in coming home tied at 1-1, but still giving the Bruins a chance to use the home cooking to extend their margin of victory even further. Much depends on Monty’s decision in goal…does he ride the ‘hot goalie’ and continue to play Swayman, or should he give Linus Ullmark a start, while giving Swayman a breather? Continuing to ride Swayman is the best decision in this corner. While the scoring has come from such unlikely sources, another factor is the step up of the team’s big players, and their help with the offense, it isn’t likely Monty would need to give another shout out as he did with David Pastrnak, as it is an obvious need. On the plus side, the Boston penalty kill has been effective, but one of the worries continues to be the Bruins inability to quickly get the puck out of their end, which has often ended with major pressure on Swayman to make the big stop. At this point of the playoffs, it doesn’t matter if the Bruins’ Monday night 5-1 victory was due to the Panthers having gathered some rust while waiting for their next opponent, or it was the determination and control the locals exhibited in the game, Boston needs to play with the same determination and control  they did in Game 1 and come out victorious. Game 5 will return play to Florida’s home rink on Tuesday, Game 6 (if necessary) would be on TD Garden ice on Friday, with Game 7 (if necessary) back to Florida.

In the NHL Draft Lottery held on Tuesday, the final results for the top three spots went #1 San Jose Sharks, #2 Chicago Blackhawks, and #3 Anaheim Ducks. Boston University’s Macklin Celebrini is expected to go number one in this year’s draft.

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