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2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Panthers, Bruins on Best Behavior in Opener. It May Not Continue



Panthers bruins

SUNRISE — The Boston Bruins not only won Monday’s Game 1 against the Florida Panthers in Sunrise.

They captured most of the supplemental story lines as well.

This series has been hyped by the media, coaches, players, fans, and my barber as a potential physical explosion.

That is understandable, considering that the four-game season series was no love-in.

These teams mean business.

During the regular season, Florida finished first in hits and hits per game, and Boston was a close third.

Florida was also the most penalized team in the league.

The mayhem never happened — at least not in Game 1.

Enemy Lines: Follow the Bruins at Boston Hockey Now

Only four minor penalties were called until the closing minutes when a few combatants got restless and were tossed with misconducts and minor penalties.

The game was over by that time.

“This is going to be very close, hotly contested,” Paul Maurice said before Game 1.

“Very physical and very fast, but I also think what might be different is it might be very disciplined.”

There is lots of time left to draw out the aggressiveness.

Sam Bennett is soon returning; Ryan Lomberg should eventually see some action.

This alone should bring out the aggression in both squads.

Afterward, the early locker room talk on the Bruins’ side mainly concerned Jeremy Swayman’s great performance.

The hockey writers voted him the first star of the game.

Then the attention went to rookies Mason Lohrei and Justin Brazeau — both scored their first NHL playoff goals — and Derek Forbort’s return to the lineup after multiple lengthy injury hiatuses.

Boston coach Jim Montgomery had nothing but praise for 23-year-old defenseman Lohrei.

“His poise with the puck and willingness to hang on to it to find a better play is amazing,” Montgomery said. “The goal he scored and before when he hit the post, that whole shift,it gives confidence to the team. But his ability to do this in big moments – some players have that, like Pasta (David Pastrnak) has it, where you think, ‘Why isn’t he shooting?’ Well, he’s waiting for the five-hole to open.”

The big news, which seemed to be celebrated as much as the win, was the arrival of Brandon Carlo minutes before game time after a sleepless night in Boston awaiting the arrival of his newborn son.

It was poetic justice that the stay-at-home defender scored the third Boston goal.

In his meeting with the media, Carlo described the emotions of a seventh-game overtime win, followed by his son’s birth around 3 a.m. Monday, then rushing to Florida on a 2 p.m. flight and capping the day with a goal.

He later quipped, “I think Pasta might have skated over and grabbed that puck for me. That would be pretty special to have, for sure. I don’t score very often, so a very cool experience for me.”

What will it take for Florida to recapture the headlines?

Maurice spoke about adjustment.

“It’s just a necessary skill for survival in the playoffs,” Maurice said. “Nobody’s gone 16-0 as far as I know. So, everybody’s going to suffer a defeat.

“You’re always going to have a game that you don’t like and rebounding, learning from it, even if it’s not the critical piece that you need for the next game. You’ll always come back to it. There will be a loss in there that will really help you going forward.”

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