Boston Bruins’ Dream Season Falls Short

Isabelle Larabee, Sports Editor

If you haven’t been following the Boston Bruins this year, you have missed a history-making season. Not only did the Bruins win the President’s Trophy (for the top team in the regular season), but they also broke the National Hockey League record for most regular season wins and points. In other words, this year’s team was special, with stars like right-wing David Pastrnak scoring a whopping 61 goals and Linus Ullmark being the top candidate to win the Vezina trophy for best goaltender. 

However, on Sunday, April 30th, 2023, the Bruins lost to the Florida Panthers in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Despite the Bruins being up 3 games to 1 in the seven-game series, the Panthers managed to rally some underdog energy and tie the series, forcing a Game 7, where they were able to complete their impressive upset.

The No. 1 seed almost never ends up winning, and it wasn’t looking like the Bruins were going to defy this odd.

 In Game 7 at TD Garden, the Bruins were down 2-0 early in the 2nd period, and it seemed as if the Panthers were going to get away with an easy victory. However, veteran David Krejci scored a power-play goal to cut the deficit to one, sparking some energy back in his team. In the 3rd period, the Bruins were finally playing like themselves: Tyler Bertuzzi tied the game early and David Pastrnak celebrated over what he thought was his game-winning goal. But in the last 60 seconds, desperate to tie the game, the Panthers pulled their goalie for an extra-man advantage. Tie the game they did. A shot from the left circle ricocheted off a leg and through Bruins’ backup goaltender Jeremy Swayman. The game then went to overtime, where the Panthers scored within the first ten minutes, leaving Bruins players and fans confused at how they let their golden opportunity at the Stanley Cup slip away. 

But really, who is surprised? The No. 1 seed almost never ends up winning, and it wasn’t looking like the Bruins were going to defy this odd. Several Bruins players were underperforming and the team didn’t look like its regular-season self. Head coach Jim Montgomery may have played a role in this as he scratched players and changed lineups too many times. The biggest head scratcher was leaving Ullmark in for Games 5 and 6 after several messy performances, forcing Swayman to play in net for the high-pressure Game 7.

Additionally, captain Patrice Bergeron was suffering an injury. Despite missing the first four games of the series, he was back in the lineup for the last three losses. In fact, Bergeron was on the ice for the Panthers’ series-winning overtime goal. Although Bergeron is undoubtedly a beloved Bruins legend, playing him in those last three games might have cost the Bruins the victory that they so desperately needed to keep their momentum going towards the Stanley Cup.

Perhaps if half the Bruins team hadn’t been injured or if the coaching staff hadn’t made such curious line-up decisions, the Bruins may have made a longer run in the playoffs. But instead, the 2022-2023 Boston Bruins were yet another team added to the list of No. 1 seeds who failed to secure the championship.

This piece also appears in our May/June 2023 print edition.