Boston Bruins

Boston Bruins

Apr 17, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins right wing David Pastrnak (88) celebrates with Boston Bruins center Pavel Zacha (18) after scoring a goal against the Florida Panthers during the first period of game one of the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time since in six months (to the day, in fact), the Bruins and Panthers will reconnect at TD Garden.

And while there’s no possible way for the Bruins to avenge what happened to them in last postseason’s Game 7 stunner on Garden ice, the Bruins aren’t shy about the fact that this game means more than your average early-season showdown.

“It’s not one of 82,” Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery admitted following his team’s morning skate at Brighton’s Warrior Ice Arena. “I mean, they ended our season. They went all the way to the Finals. Our summers were miserable until the Finals were over. And that’s because they beat us.

“So, yeah, this means more.”

  • Boston’s showdown with the Panthers come in the midst of what’s been an impressive eight-game point streak to open the year, with the B’s skating in at 7-0-1 through the first month of the campaign and riding the high of last Saturday’s 4-1 win over the Red Wings.

    The Panthers, meanwhile, come into action at 4-3-0 on the campaign, but have rattled off victories in back-to-back games, including a 3-2 victory over the Kraken this past weekend.

    Here are four players to watch for when the sides get after it tonight in Boston…

  • David Pastrnak

    Oct 14, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins right wing David Pastrnak (88) celebrates with fans after scoring on a penalty shot against the Nashville Predators during the second period at the TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

    Oct 14, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Bruins right wing David Pastrnak (88) celebrates with fans after scoring on a penalty shot against the Predators during the second period at TD Garden. (Brian Fluharty/USA TODAY Sports)

  • There’s no denying that David Pastrnak has been the Black and Gold’s early-season MVP.

    Pastrnak has shown no signs of slowing down from last year’s Hart-worthy pace, too, as he’s tallied eight goals and 13 points. Considering that the Bruins have scored 26 goals as a team this mean, that means that Pastrnak has factored in on 50 percent of the team’s total scoring. That’s just insane. And this past Saturday was yet another standout performance, as No. 88 scored an electric penalty-shot goal and then played some pool for a bankshot empty-net marker to put the Wings to bed.

    If this game does indeed mean more to the Bruins than just one of 82, it’ll be interesting to see how Pastrnak handles it. Pastrnak is part of this new wave of Bruins leaders, and there’s no doubt that he took last year’s loss personally, especially when you look at how he did his best to will the team to victory in Games 6 and 7.

    Pastrnak scored four goals in four regular-season games against the Panthers last year.

  • Jake DeBrusk

    Sep 24, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins left wing Jake DeBrusk (74) against the New York Rangers during the first period at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

    Sep 24, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins left wing Jake DeBrusk (74) against the New York Rangers during the first period at TD Garden. (Eric Canha/USA TODAY Sports)

  • We’ve said it before, so we’ll say it again: The Bruins need to see Jake DeBrusk get on the board here.

    Still without a goal to his name through eight games this season, it’s beginning to feel like even the chances are drying up for the hot-and-cold wing. After Thursday’s loss saw DeBrusk fail to land a shot on goal, last Saturday saw DeBrusk credited with just a single shot on Ville Husso’s cage.

    Speaking before Saturday’s game, Montgomery admitted that he had a conversation with DeBrusk and stressed to DeBrusk how much of a threat he can be for the club when he’s making plays with his speed.

    Going against a Florida defense that’s still without Aaron Ekblad and Brandon Montour should allow DeBrusk plenty of opportunities to use that speed and finally erase that donut next to his name.

  • Charlie McAvoy

    BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - OCTOBER 28: Charlie McAvoy #73 of the Boston Bruins skates against the Detroit Red Wings during the first period at TD Garden on October 28, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – OCTOBER 28: Charlie McAvoy #73 of the Boston Bruins skates against the Detroit Red Wings during the first period at TD Garden on October 28, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

  • Another key member of the Bruins’ leadership group, this is a game where Charlie McAvoy could make his presence felt at both ends, and simply continue what’s been a dominating stretch for him.

    McAvoy recorded three assists in Thursday’s loss to the Ducks, and followed that up with a three-zone clinic against the Red Wings last Saturday, with a goal and an ability to make the Red Wings’ one-two punch of Dylan Larkin and Alex DeBrincat vanish into thin air.

    The Bruins will need more of that in this one.

  • Sam Reinhart

    Sep 25, 2023; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Florida Panthers forward Sam Reinhart (13) looks on against the Nashville Predators during the first period at Amerant Bank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

    Sep 25, 2023; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Florida Panthers forward Sam Reinhart (13) looks on against the Nashville Predators during the first period at Amerant Bank Arena. (Sam Navarro/USA TODAY Sports)

  • While Pastrnak has been doing his thing for the Bruins, it’s been a similarly white-hot start to the season for the Panthers’ Sam Reinhart. Through seven games, Reinhart has scored a goal-per-game pace, with seven tallies (and two assists) for Florida. Reinhart has been held off the scoresheet in just two of those seven games, too.

    Reinhart is expected to skate to the right of Aleksander Barkov and Evan Rodrigues in this contest.

    The No. 2 overall pick from the 2014 NHL Draft, Reinhart scored three goals and five points in four head-to-heads with the Bruins during the regular season last year.

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