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2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Bruins Drop Rhetoric Against Panthers, Focus on Winning the Game

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Boston’s Pat Maroon battles Kyle Okposo in front of Sergei Bobrovsky during the first period of Game 5 on Tuesday night. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

SUNRISE — On Tuesday night, the Boston Bruins lived to fight another day, beating the Panthers 2-1 in a hard-fought victory for the visitors.

After reviewing the highlights, one quality of the game stood out.

More like something was missing: The nastiness.

The two teams played nice. The heavy checking did not ease up, but the rhetoric and aggressive penalties were gone.

Could it have been the Brad Marchand effect?

Without Boston’s resident villain, did the Bruins go soft?

There were no pregame conversations at the redline, no challenges to all comers, and no trying to lure Captain Barkov into fisticuffs.

No, That stuff simply goes away when there is business at hand.

The nine minor penalties called included embellishment, closing the hand on the puck, an unsuccessful challenge, and too many men on the ice — playground stuff.

Indeed, only two penalties showed any degree of behavior requiring anger management.

Charlie McAvoy took two minutes to try to pop Sam Bennett. I can’t understand why. Oh yeah…

Aaron Ekblad was penalized for a skimpy slash on David Pastrnak.

In tough guy Pat Maroon’s 8:04 of ice time, he managed but one hit and was on the short end of two giveaways.

Not exactly the profile of a game breaker.

Although it is not always a reliable indicator, the game total of 72 hits was by far the lowest in the series.

By contrast, Florida’s 6-1 win in Game 2 had 146 hits and a whopping 158 penalty minutes.

Boston coach Jim Montgomery is an intelligent man.

He must have told his boys to cool it after taking too many unnecessary penalties in the prior game, the 3-2 Florida victory in a raucous but very agitated Garden.

After Tuesday’s victory, Montgomery said, “Tonight was our best game of the series.”

He didn’t address the issue of less aggressive behavior by both teams, preferring to dwell more on his team’s success in moving the puck and “winning one-on-one battles.”

If he showed any displeasure with the Panthers, it was with Anton Lundell who he said took a “dive” to draw the cross-checking penalty on Morgan Geekie.

Lundell was caught at it and received the obligatory two minutes, which negated a potential Florida power play.

What’s going to happen in the next game?

In Paul Maurice’s Wednesday briefing, he said, “Last night was the first pretty disciplined game. There wasn’t anything going on after whistles, so it’s on now. It’s serious. All the foolishness is gone, and now we get down to playing.”

If history is any indicator, as the stakes get higher, caution gets greater.

Being penalized for a cheap shot can conceivably cost a team the series.

These players are too smart for that.

For the most in-depth coverage of the Florida Panthers:

STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS
EASTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS
FLORIDA PANTHERS (ATL1) V. BOSTON BRUINS (ATL2)
FLORIDA LEADS BEST-OF-7 SERIES 3-2
GAME 6

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