If Brandon Montour was not looked at as a top defenseman in the league after a breakout regular season, he certainly is now after a historic start to the Florida Panthers’ playoff run.
After a season for the ages, one in which he doubled his previous career-high in points from 37 to 73, Montour has not shown any signs of slowing down.
Not by a long shot.
Montour, 29, became the first defenseman in more than 20 years to score five goals in a single playoff series when the Panthers knocked off the Boston Bruins in the opening round.
He did not stop there.
With 7:36 to go in Game 1 of their second-round series with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Montour wired a slap shot past Ilya Samsonov to give Florida a decisive 4-2 lead.
It was his sixth goal of the postseason, which stacks up as the 22nd most a defenseman has ever scored during a playoff run in the history of the league.
Montour has only played eight games so far.
“We like our game right now and anything can happen,” Montour said on Tuesday night. “You say I’m on a run but everyone’s on a run right now and we’re in the second round so we have a lot of hockey left.
“The experience is great. I experienced it in Anaheim and I cherish that, so the experience definitely helps”
The combination of speed and strength in Montour’s game has allowed him to be a factor on both sides of the ice.
It translated during the regular season when he took on a role both on the top power play and in key situations defensively and it translated in the playoffs as well.
His endurance and top-end skill give him the edge needed to outlast his opponents and he has taken full advantage of it late in games.
Four of Montour’s six goals were scored in the third period, including the game-tying goal which sent Game 7 against the Bruins into overtime.
Montour had shown flashes of being a good playoff performer in the past — specifically when he had seven assists in 17 games as a rookie when the Anaheim Ducks made the Western Conference Final in 2017 — but had not had a chance to put it all together since.
In just three playoff runs prior, Montour did not record more than three points and only made it past the first round once.
The one and only 💥 pic.twitter.com/MK5tqSfnE4
— Florida Panthers (@FlaPanthers) May 3, 2023
That lone second-round appearance came when the Panthers were swept by the Tampa Bay Lightning last season.
In what is guaranteed to be his longest playoff run since 2017 following Florida’s Game 1 victory on Monday, Montour hopes to keep it going.
So, too, do the Panthers.
FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS
EASTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS (ATL2) VS. FLORIDA PANTHERS (WC2)
GAME 2 (Panthers Lead 1-0)
- When: Thursday, 7 p.m.
- Where: Scotiabank Arena, Toronto
- TV/Streaming: TNT, ESPN+
- Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
- Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
- First Round Schedule — Game 1: Florida 4, @Toronto 2; Game 2: Thursday at Toronto, 7 (TNT); Game 3: Sunday at Florida, 6:30 (TBS); Game 4: Wednesday at Florida, 7 (ESPN); Game 5*:Friday, May 12 at Toronto (TNT); Game 6*: Sunday, May 14 at Florida (TBA); Game 7*: May 16 at Toronto (TNT). (*) – If Necessary
- How They Got Here: Toronto d. Tampa Bay 4-2; Florida d. Boston 4-3
- Season Series (Toronto won 3-1): Maple Leafs 5, @Panthers 4 OT (Jan. 17); @Maple Leafs 6, Panthers 2 (Mar. 23); Panthers 3, @Maple Leafs 2 OT (March 29); Maple Leafs 2, @Panthers 1 OT (April 10)
- Last season: Florida won 2-1
- All-time Regular Season Series: Toronto leads 48-36-7, 7 ties
- Postseason History: First Meeting