Bruins Struggle In Entertaining First Round of NHL Playoffs

Ben Capocci ’26

Staff Writer

(Edited 4/26 at 2 EST, some details are now obsolete.)

Boston’s most exciting team is off to a rather rocky start in their postseason campaign. Well, relatively rocky, that is. 

The Boston Bruins claimed the title of best regular season team in the history of the NHL, closing out the season with both the most points and wins in league history. Anticipation was high entering the Stanley Cup Playoffs with the Bruins as the clear Cup favorite. But, the Florida Panthers have given the B’s much more difficulty than originally anticipated.

These difficulties seem to stem from the injury of Boston’s captain, Patrice Bergeron. Bergeron left the Bruins’ last game of the regular season in Montreal, a completely meaningless game as the President’s Trophy had long been locked up and both the points and wins records were already broken. Listed as an upper body injury, it seemed as though Bergeron was going to be set to start the push for the cup in game 1, but was ruled out as a game-time decision. As of game 4, Bergeron has yet to play in the series, with him listed as ‘likely’ to return for Game 5. 

Bergeron’s absence has been felt by the entirety of the Bruins team. Because of his absence, every line had to be shifted around, and through 4 games there has been serious instability in the Bruins’ play. This is not just isolated to their forward play as defensemen Dmitry Orlov and Hampus Lindholm have been much less consistent than their regular season play. 

Despite these struggles, the Bruins, as of the writing of this article, are leading their first round series 3-1 and there have been some bright spots. Tyler Bertuzzi, one of the Bruins’ major mid-season acquisitions, has looked very good through 4 games with 6 points on the season. Winger Brad Marchand also seems to have come alive with 3 goals and an assist through 4 games.

But, something about the team does not seem as dominant and sharp as it did during their record breaking run. At points, the team looks sloppy, making uncharacteristic mistakes that they may be able to get past against Florida with but will come to haunt them as they get deeper into their chase for the cup.

Another major concern for the Bruins should be the health of starting goaltender Linus Ullmark. He left the Bruins’ second to last game of the year “for precautionary reasons” according to Head Coach Jim Montgomery. Despite starting all 4 games so far this series, winning 3 of them, Ullmark has not looked right. He appears to be in physical pain throughout the game, which for the most part, has not hampered his play. However, if Ullmark is not at 100%, it is going to be hard for the Bruins to make a run for the cup this year.

Elsewhere in the league, there are a bunch of really fun and entertaining series going on. One that has gained my interest in particular is the Toronto and Tampa Bay slate. Two super talented teams going head to head in a high scoring heavyweight bout has already brought 2 overtime games and 35 combined goals in just 4 games. Toronto, thanks to two OT wins, one of which saw the Leafs down 4-1 with 10 minutes remaining in the game, now have a 3-1 lead in the series. The Leafs are just 1 win away from reaching the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2004.

Also in the East, the Devils and Rangers are tied at 2-2 at the time of this article, with both teams winning on each other’s home ice. The Carolina Hurricanes are also up 3-2 on the New York Islanders.

Now, to the West. Some of the games biggest names are battling it out in the first round of the Cup playoffs with Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers taking on the LA Kings and Nathan MacKinnon and the Avalanche fighting it out with the Seattle Kraken in their second year in the league. Edmonton leads LA 3-2, while Colorado and Seattle are tied at 2 wins apiece.

Also in the Western Conference, the Winnipeg Jets are on the ropes as the 1 seed Vegas Golden Knights have a strong 3-1 lead in the series, and Dallas leads Minnesota 3-2. 

The Western conference, although seemingly lesser compared to the East based on regular season results, has lots of talent and a play style that is just as, if not more, aggressive as their counterparts to the East. Whoever comes out of that side of the bracket is sure to be a legitimate Cup threat with whichever team that comes out of it having to prove themselves by getting through a tough conference.

As of right now, I have no idea who is going to come out on top of the rest this year in the NHL. As a Bruins fan, I still have some hope, but it is dwindling. There seems to be so many question marks. What if Bergeron does not fix these problems? What is wrong with Ullmark? I’m not sure if this team can come back together as the team I saw all regular season, but, it is a long few months, and who knows what will happen.

Featured image courtesy of NHL/Boston Bruins

Categories: Sports

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