REVOLUTION: The New England Revolution take on Toronto FC this afternoon @ 2:00pm on 98.5 HD2 (Hubcast) and Streaming Here.

Boston Bruins

Boston Bruins

Apr 28, 2023; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Florida Panthers left wing Matthew Tkachuk (19) scores a goal against Boston Bruins goaltender Linus Ullmark (35) in the first period in game six of the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at FLA Live Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

The fact that this first-round series between the Bruins and Panthers is going seven games is downright infuriating.

With all due respect to Florida, the Bruins are a much, much better team than the Panthers.

They proved that for 82 games in a record-breaking regular season that is now coming to a single night Sunday at TD Garden. They’ve proven that in Games 1, 3, and 4 of this series alone. In fact, just about the only time the Bruins have led you to believe otherwise is when they quite literally hand goals to the Panthers.

And much like they did in Games 2 and 5, the Bruins did that once again in Game 6, as defensive-zone giveaways remained and issue and gave the Panthers at least two goals in a 7-5 win.

  • I’ve said it before, and perhaps it’s an oversimplification of everything, but this series is over as soon as the Bruins stop gifting goals to the Panthers. They win Game 5 by two goals if they don’t do exactly that. They go to overtime at the very worst in Game 6 if they decide it’s not Christmas for the Cats. But, again, that’s proven to be an almost impossible task.

    “It was that kind of game where there was just teams were making great plays offensively,” Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery said following the loss. “We do have to clean up a couple of things, like we didn’t protect the slot like we usually do. And they got three goals — minimum — from there, that I can think about that. I’m talking five-on-five, not even the power-play goals.”

    Sure, the Panthers have made plays. But there’s also been a startling rise in the Bruins’ inability to make plays.

    It’s to the point where I think you will happily take an icing over a failed, too-soft pass to no man’s land just inside or just over the Boston blue. You’d even take a clock-bleeding battle along the wall where the puck is simply inched up, up, up and out over the course of 20 seconds instead of an attempted zone exit through the middle. The B’s have weathered those storms just fine.

    At this point, you’d take anything except the Bruins creating their own storms.

    Here are more thoughts, notes, and takeaways from a Game 6 loss…

  • Bruins’ Ullmark takes worst beating yet

    Apr 28, 2023; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Boston Bruins goaltender Linus Ullmark (35) during a break in the second period against the Florida Panthers in game six of the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at FLA Live Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

    Apr 28, 2023; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Boston Bruins goaltender Linus Ullmark (35) during a break in the second period against the Florida Panthers in game six of the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at FLA Live Arena. (Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports)

  • The Bruins have by all means decided to roll with Linus Ullmark for better or worse.

    The Bruins’ decision to stick with Ullmark despite his game-time decision status in Game 3 spoke to that philosophy, and same for the B’s turning to Ullmark for last Sunday’s Game 4 despite openly discussing the possibility of Jeremy Swayman starting Game 4 just 24 hours and change away from that game.

    But Friday was the low point for Ullmark in this first-round series, as the Panthers tagged the 6-foot-5 netminder for six goals on 32 shots faced.

    It seemed clear that Ullmark didn’t have ‘it’ and this game, and though Montgomery through about a goaltending change, it just never transpired between Brandon Montour’s game-opening tally and the final horn.

    “We communicate with everybody involved and we just felt that it was that kind of game that we were going to pull out,” Montgomery said. “It was a kind of game that happened a lot during the year. And we always seem to find a way to win. But we’re learning here in the playoffs. It’s a different animal. It just is.”

    Injured in Game 81 of the regular season and looking a little sluggish or labored in this series, there’s a belief that Ullmark is battling through something. But Montgomery doesn’t think that that is coming to the surface.

    “I think Linus is fine,” said Montgomery. “I looked him in the eyes a few times when he came back to the bench and I liked the way his eyes were looking. He looked intense and he looked keen.”

    That look sadly didn’t not make a difference for the Bruins in this contest.

  • Pastrnak follows through on Game 6 guarantee

    SUNRISE, FL - APRIL 21: Teammates congratulate David Pastrnak #88 of the Boston Bruins after he scored a third period goal against the Florida Panthers in Game Three of the First Round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the FLA Live Arena on April 21, 2023 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

    SUNRISE, FL – APRIL 21: Teammates congratulate David Pastrnak #88 of the Boston Bruins after he scored a third period goal against the Florida Panthers in the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the FLA Live Arena. (Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

  • If there’s one thing that went well for the Bruins in this game it’s David Pastrnak following through on his promise to have more of a shoot-first mentality and to end his two-game scoring drought.

    On the board with two power-play goals, Pastrnak looked to be at his best to date in this series, and finished the night with two goals and a team-high seven shots on goal in just over 20 minutes of work. Pastrnak also led the Bruins with eight individual scoring chances for at all-situation play, according to NaturalStatTrick.

  • The Bruins have to hope that Pastrnak’s success in Game 6 translates to Sunday’s Game 7. Pastrnak has been a point-per-game player in closeout games in his career, and he may be the key to neutralizing what’s been a gigantic heat-up from Matthew Tkachuk, who is up to five goals and 10 points through six games this series.

  • Montgomery’s Game 6 tinkering does not pay off

    SUNRISE, FL - APRIL 28: Matthew Tkachuk #19 of the Florida Panthers scores a first period goal past goaltender Linus Ullmark #35 of the Boston Bruins in Game Six of the First Round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the FLA Live Arena on April 28, 2023 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

    SUNRISE, FL – APRIL 28: Matthew Tkachuk #19 of the Florida Panthers scores a first period goal past goaltender Linus Ullmark #35 of the Boston Bruins in Game 6 of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the FLA Live Arena. (Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

  • A change on the backend, with Connor Clifton subbed in for Matt Grzelcyk, did not do much for the Bruins in a Game 6 loss. In fact, Clifton became just the third Bruins player to post a minus-3 rating in less than 14 minutes of time on ice in a playoff game since the league started tracking time on ice in 1997, joining a club that up until last night featured Vladimir Sobotka and Blake Wheeler, both of whom hit that mark on Apr. 23, 2010.

    The ugliness for Clifton came on two giveaways that ended up in the back of the Boston net, the first of which came in the first period on a Matthew Tkachuk goal, while the second served as the backbreaker on Eetu Luostarinen’s game-winning goal late in the third period.

    The decision to sit Grzelcyk was a bit puzzling, to be honest, as Florida’s overtime goal was much more of a product of Linus Ullmark’s misplay than anything Grzelcyk did. The Bruins also got a taste of how much they missed Grzelcyk in the transition game when they dropped Game 2. They addressed that by throwing Grzelcyk into action and won both games in Florida with No. 48 in action. It also feels like the Panthers have targeted Derek Forbort and his lack of speed and puck skills throughout this series, and Boston’s recent dip on the penalty kill made it feel like Forbort would be the logical choice to sit out Game 6.

    The Bruins also saw some success from the Dmitry Orlov-Connor Clifton pairing when deployed together late in the season, as the Bruins outscored opponents 3-0 and held an on-ice edge in shots, scoring chances, and high-danger chances in their 77 minutes and change of five-on-five play together.

    The Forbort-Clifton pairing was simply unplayably bad, and it was obvious by the second period. But their deployment continued on into the third period — if there was ever a time to shorten the bench and go to four defensemen, it was right there and then — and it only accelerated the Bruins’ doom.

  • Playoff Bertuzzi continues to deliver

    Apr 28, 2023; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Boston Bruins left wing Tyler Bertuzzi (59) celebrates a goal with teammates in the first period against the Florida Panthers in game six of the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at FLA Live Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

    Apr 28, 2023; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Bruins left wing Tyler Bertuzzi (59) celebrates a goal with teammates in the first period against the Panthers in Game 6 of the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at FLA Live Arena. (Jim Rassol/USA TODAY Sports)

  • Don Sweeney and the Bruins were right on the money with their pre-trade belief that deadline addition Tyler Bertuzzi was a playoff player. Even without a single game of Stanley Cup Playoff experience to his name due to his career-long run with the slow rebuild-styled Red Wings, they just felt that he’d be a missing ingredient.

    That has been the case and then some, as even in defeat, Bertuzzi had a massive impact on this game. Bertuzzi got things cooking for the Bruins with the power-play goal that opened up the scoring for the club, and tied things up early in the third period. He also provided a primary assist on the Pastrnak power-play goal that gave Boston their first lead of the evening. He was also promoted up to Boston’s top line opposite Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron by the night’s end, and may very well begin Game 7 in that spot.

    Bertuzzi is up to four goals and nine points in six games this postseason, and he may be the guy the Bruins need to help jumpstart them for Game 7 to not be a gigantic, unforgettable nightmare.

Sign me up for the 98.5 The Sports Hub email newsletter!

Get the latest Boston sports news and analysis, plus exclusive on-demand content and special giveaways from Boston's Home for Sports, 98.5 The Sports Hub.

*
*
By clicking "Subscribe" I agree to the website's terms of Service and Privacy Policy. I understand I can unsubscribe at any time.