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2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs

No Surprises Here: Panthers and Bruins Know Each Other Very Well



Panthers bruins
The Florida Panthers and Boston Bruins are well acquainted with one another going into Game 1 of their second-round playoff series tonight in Sunrise. // Photo @GeorgeRichards

FORT LAUDERDALE — The Panthers and the Bruins are not exactly strangers.

They have played each other 11 times in the past 13 months: seven playoff games last season and four regular-season games over the past year.

That is plenty of time to learn each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

Also, there was ample time to develop the animosities that make this a great rivalry.

Although all the games were close, Florida was 0-2-2 against the Bruins during the regular season.

Among the “highlights” of the friendly rivalry this season were Charlie McAvoy receiving a four-game suspension for a hit to the head of Oliver Ekman-LarssonHampus Lindholm getting into the only fight of his lengthy career against Sam Bennett; and Brad Marchand taking on Niko Mikkola, who is 30 pounds heavier and eight inches taller.

Their final meeting could have been a case study for officials defining aggressive penalties. There were calls for fighting, roughing, high-sticking, cross-checking, interference, and slashing.

It doesn’t take a psychology degree to conclude that aggressive behavior has occurred when these two teams meet.

More is expected during the upcoming series.

Enemy Lines: Follow the Bruins at Boston Hockey Now

After Sunday’s practice, Matthew Tkachuk remarked, “They’re two passionate teams that want to win. I think when  it comes to being competitive and being that passionate about what your profession is and what you want to do, true competitiveness comes out, and that’s when the physicality comes.”

In discussing the Boston-Toronto seven-game set, Tkachuk said he was more focused on the downtime than studying the teams or what the winner of that series had left in the tank.

“We’ve played against these guys a lot this year, so we know what type of team they are,” Tkachuk said. “I think it was more just getting some rest, and rest is so important this time of  year.”

Not wanting to use words that can add fuel to a fire, which he has done in the past, Tkachuk chose to be complimentary about his opponent.

“The Bruins are such an unbelievable team. We’ve played against them a lot over my almost two years being here,” he said. “It’s going to be an exciting series. I’m glad we got home ice so we can play in front of our great fans here . I know everybody’s going to be excited for the game tomorrow.

“They’re coming off short rest, but I think it’s almost an advantage for them at the beginning of Game 1 just to get back in it where it’s a little bit of a challenge for us to get off to a great start at the beginning of Game 1. Hopefully our rested legs can take over at some point and we can try to take over the game and the series.”

Preparation was detailed on both sides.

While Florida’s players were rewarded with a little time off since the clincher against Tampa Bay a week ago, the coaching staff was busy viewing videos of both the Bruins and the Maple Leafs.

Not knowing who they would play until the last minute made preparation a bit more time-consuming.

Paul Maurice explained the process Sunday.

“When you spend seven days watching two teams you’ve got a lot of video on both teams but you understand both teams a little differently so you get to watch players a little closer,” Maurice said.

“They’re going to do the same thing on us. Their video guys have been cutting video for a week. Everybody prepares ahead. There are no secrets. We’re divisional rivals. We played each other four times. We played each other enough. We understand each other.”

Maurice explained that history, Boston’s seven-game drag-out series with Toronto, and the Panthers’ week off are meaningless once the puck drops.

“Nothing matters. We have to talk for a couple of days because it makes people turn their TVs on  and we really need that to happen.” Maurice said.

“It’s fun to talk about it. The puck’s going to drop and none of it matters … The game’s going to get played and that’s it.”

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I have to admit, this is new territory for me, everyone has the Panthers as the favorites. Dont think weve ever been favored in a series, at least not in the last fecade or so. Definitely not used to being the “big dogs” on the block, it’s nice, I could get used to this lol

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