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Bruins vs Panthers Game 2 Preview

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A stomach bug and the absence of their captain Patrice Bergeron weren’t enough to stop the Boston Bruins from picking up a 3-1 win over the Florida Panthers in Game 1 of their opening-round series on Monday night. Tonight, the Bruins and Panthers are set to take to the ice once again at the TD Garden for Game 2. Unfortunately, the Bruins will be without their captain, as per Fluto Shinzawa of The Athletic, as they look to take a 2-0 series lead over the Panthers.

Game 1 Recap

Much of the storyline ahead of the opening faceoff surrounded the fact that the Bruins were dealing with an illness going through their dressing room. More questions surrounded their lineup as it wasn’t known if Linus Ullmark or Bergeron would be good to go for the game. Ultimately, Ullmark started, and as he has all season, he gave the Bruins a strong performance between the pipes, stopping 31 of 32 shots.

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The Bruins opened the scoring most fittingly, with their regular season scoring leader, David Pastrnak, opening the scoring early in the first period off a nifty pass from Tyler Bertuzzi on the power play. Bertuzzi was making his Stanley Cup playoff debut, and he didn’t disappoint, as he was named the second star of the game with two assists during the contest. However, despite the early 1-0 lead, the Panthers dictated much of the play outshooting Boston 15-8 in the opening frame.

Brad Marchand doubled the Bruins’ lead 3:41 into the second period on a shot Panthers’ goaltender Alex Lyon would certainly like back. However, Matthew Tkachuk capitalized on some space in front of the net and fired the puck past Ullmark to make it a one-goal game. While Florida once again outshot Boston 9-8, the Bruins began to turn the tides during the second period, and Jake Debrusk poked a puck past Lyon to give them a 3-1 lead entering the third period.

Matthew Tkachuk, Florida Panthers
Matthew Tkachuk, Florida Panthers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

That was all the offence the Bruins would need as Ullmark shut the door over the final frame stopping all eight shots faced in the period. Despite the win, the Bruins left more to be desired offensively. However, head coach Jim Montgomery was pleased with his club’s defensive game. “I just think [Hampus] Lindholm and Brando [Carlo] did a really good job of having great gaps against that line,” said Montgomery. “I don’t look at it as a Barkov thing, I look at it like a line. [Carter] Verhaeghe has 40 goals. And for the most part, we did a really good job.

Keys to Game 2

For the Panthers to even the series, they will need more offence from captain Aleksander Barkov. Likewise, the Bruins will try to shut down Barkov again in tonight’s contest. The Bruins will also look to expose Lyon’s inexperience in the Stanley Cup playoffs and once again get to the goalie early on.

The Bruins look to be without their captain once again; although Bergeron skated alone this morning, he didn’t skate with the team, which is not a good indication of him getting back in the lineup tonight. However, the good news is that he is making steps in the right direction, as he hadn’t skated since leaving the Bruins’ final regular season game with an undisclosed injury.

Judging by the lines at this morning’s skate, Montgomery will again insert Forbort into the lineup, leaving Matt Grzelcyk as the odd-man out to this point of the Bruins’ playoff run. The Bruins coach cited the matchup and Forbort’s defensive proficiency as the main reason for his choice, saying, “well, Forby’s so good at a D-zone coverage and his penalty kill, and he showed that today, and down the stretch there with the last four to five minutes,” Montgomery told reporters, per a team-provided transcript. “He’s out there with (Brandon) Carlo killing a lot of important minutes for us, especially in a pulled-goalie situation.”

Players To Watch In Game 2

Marchand scoring his first playoff goal in the Bruins’ first game is a good sign for the veteran forward. He scored just two goals over the final 23 games of the regular season. Getting on the board early can be a huge confidence factor for him, who scored his 50th career playoff goal and now trails Bruins all-time leader Cam Neely by five goals. Look for Marchand to continue to make an impact tonight.

Brad Marchand Boston Bruins
Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins (Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Pavel Zacha will again be leaned upon heavily in the absence of Bergeron. While playing between Marchand and Debrusk, Zacha has a huge opportunity to provide some offence for the Bruins. He will also need to win some key faceoffs, an aspect of the game that is so sorely missed without their captain. Zacha has had limited playoff experience, with just five career playoff games before this season. He picked up his first career playoff point in Game 1 with an assist on Debrusk’s goal.

The Panthers will need Barkov to put together a much better performance, as he didn’t register a single shot in Game 1. The captain generally performs well in the postseason, with six goals and 15 assists for 21 points in 27 career playoff games. Carter Verhaeghe, who scored 40 goals during the regular season, was limited to just two shots on goal in Game 1 and will also need to be better if the Panthers hope to even the series.

Aleksander Barkov Florida Panthers
Aleksander Barkov, Florida Panthers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Tkachuk did his part, providing the Panthers with their lone goal during the 3-1 loss. The pesky star had three shots on goal and three hits. Look for him to up his antics as he attempts to get into the Bruins’ heads tonight. The first-year Panthers’ forward had a career-high 109 points this season with 40 goals and 69 assists.

Goaltending Matchup

While the Bruins opted to alternate starts between Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman throughout the regular season, they are taking the traditional route during the playoffs, as Ullmark is confirmed to start for Game 2. He was named the first star of Game 1 and posted a .969 SV% in his first career playoff win. He will look to carry his momentum forward with another solid performance tonight.

Linus Ullmark Jeremy Swayman Boston Bruins
Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman, Boston Bruins (Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Paul Maurice will again turn to Lyon for tonight’s clash with the Bruins. Lyon allowed three goals on 29 shots in Game 1. The series opener was Lyon’s first career playoff start, and it will be interesting to see how he handles the pressures of a seven-game series moving forward. He has only 39 regular season starts through a career primarily spent in the minor leagues. Should he falter early, the Panthers may turn to the highly-paid Sergei Bobrovsky.

Game 2 Outlook

The Bruins, without a doubt, will face a tough test without Bergeron in the lineup. However, as they’ve shown all year, they have the depth to deal with missing pieces and each night, someone seems to step up with a strong performance. The Panthers need to seize the opportunity early if they hope to knock off the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Bruins.

Expect the physicality factor to pick up as we move along in the series. However, with the Bruins having agitators on each of their forward lines with Marchand, Bertuzzi, Garnet Hathaway, and Trent Frederic, don’t expect them to be intimidated by any of the Panthers’ tactics. So tune in tonight to see how the matchup plays out; the puck drop is scheduled for 7:30ET.







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