Boston Bruins

Boston Bruins

Boston Bruins

Mar 18, 2022; Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN; Boston Bruins goaltender Linus Ullmark (35) and Boston Bruins defenseman Derek Forbort (28) celebrate their victory over the Winnipeg Jets at Canada Life Centre. Mandatory Credit: James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports

Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy isn’t going to let the suspense build when it comes to his Game 1 starter, as he has confirmed that it will be Linus Ullmark leading the team onto the ice for Monday’s Game 1 against the Hurricanes.

Ullmark’s start felt like an inevitability given his late-season push, with a 9-1-0 record and .945 save percentage over his final 12 appearances of the season. Those nine wins were the sixth-most in the NHL over that spell, while that .945 save percentage was tops among all NHL goalies with at least 10 appearances since Mar. 15.

Overall, the 6-foot-4 netminder posted a 26-10-2 record and .917 save percentage in 41 games with the Bruins this season.

This will be Ullmark’s first ever postseason appearance, as the Sabres did not qualify (or even come close to qualifying) for the postseason at any point during his Buffalo tenure.

  • Apr 26, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins left wing Brad Marchand (63) is congratulated by left wing Jake DeBrusk (74) and center Patrice Bergeron (37) after scoring against the Florida Panthers during the third period at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

    Apr 26, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins left wing Brad Marchand (63) is congratulated by left wing Jake DeBrusk (74) and center Patrice Bergeron (37) after scoring against the Florida Panthers. (Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports)

    Up front, the Bruins will roll with a first line that keeps Jake DeBrusk to the right of Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron. Together for almost 281 minutes of five-on-five play this season, the Marchand-Bergeron-DeBrusk trio outshot their opponents 241-113, out-chanced opponents 189-86, and scored 17 goals.

    DeBrusk, who didn’t exactly love his prior runs at right wing, undoubtedly took the opportunity and ran with it, with a team-leading 16 goals since his jump up to the line back on Feb. 24.

    The Bruins will also continue to roll with a middle-six featuring Erik Haula between Taylor Hall and David Pastrnak on the second line and a Charlie Coyle-centered third line with Trent Frederic to the left and Craig Smith on the right.

    Haula has been one of the league’s most productive forwards since the 2022 trade deadline came and went without a center upgrade for the B’s, with the 42nd-most points among all NHL forwards since Mar. 21. And the Bruins have really utilized that Frederic-Coyle-Smith line as a tone-setting presence, with that line frequently getting the start for Boston.

    Boston will continue to lean on a fourth line with Nick Foligno and Curtis Lazar as Tomas Nosek’s wingers.

  • Mar 24, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins defenseman Hampus Lindholm (27) during the second period against the Tampa Bay Lightning at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

    Mar 24, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins defenseman Hampus Lindholm (27) during the second period against the Tampa Bay Lightning at TD Garden. (Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports)

    On the backend, the Bruins will rely on their Hampus Lindholm-Charlie McAvoy pairing to lead the way.

    The Lindholm-McAvoy pairing has been a stellar one for the Bruins, with that duo controlling on-ice shot attempts at a 163-109 advantage, as well as a 107-58 advantage in shots, 43-23 victory in high-danger chances, and 12-3 edge in goals in their 131 minutes and change of five-on-five time together.

    Acquired well after the conclusion of the 2021-22 season series with the Hurricanes, which wrapped up in early February, the Bruins are hopeful that Lindholm’s defensive attributes will better equip the Bruins to handle some of the problems that Carolina’s forecheck and overall three-zone pressure caused for the Bruins.

    The Bruins will round out the defense with Matt Grzelcyk to the left of Brandon Carlo on their second pairing, while Derek Forbort and Connor Clifton will make up the Black and Gold’s third pairing.

  • BOSTON, MA - APRIL 13: Mike Reilly #6 of the Boston Bruins skates during the first period of a game against the Buffalo Sabres at TD Garden on April 13, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

    BOSTON, MA – APRIL 13: Mike Reilly #6 of the Boston Bruins skates during the first period of a game against the Buffalo Sabres at TD Garden on April 13, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

    The Bruins will begin their postseason run with two extra forwards and two spare defensemen as their scratches.

    The Bruins will be prioritizing fourth-line talents with their extra forwards, as both Anton Blidh and Chris Wagner are practicing with the team as the 13th and 14th forward. Blidh’s nod comes with after a 2021-22 season that included a career-high in goals (two), assists (seven), points (nine), shots (28), hits (82), blocks (17), and games played (32).

    Wagner, meanwhile, earned his way back to the NHL with the salary cap no longer an issue and after a 2022 finale that saw the Walpole, Mass. native draw a penalty and record a staggering 11 hits in 15:57 of time on ice.

    Mike Reilly will find himself as the odd man out in the B’s left-side rotation, with Derek Forbort getting the nod over him on Boston’s third pairing. The Bruins tried a Forbort-Reilly pairing for a hot second, but it simply wasn’t a fit, and Reilly’s late-season penalty trouble (eight minors over his last nine games) didn’t help. He will be joined by trade deadline addition Josh Brown as the Black and Gold’s No. 8 defenseman.

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