What Happened to the Bruins?


Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

Bruins Captain Patrice Bergeron salutes the fans after his team’s disappointing Game 7 loss to the Florida Panthers.

John Murray, Contributing Writer

The 2022-2023 Boston Bruins set the record for most points and wins in NHL history, and hopes were high coming into the playoffs. They looked towards the second round when they went up 3-1 to a Panthers squad that barely made it to the playoffs. However, the Bruins would choke that lead, and become another team to fall to the President’s Trophy Curse.

The teams with the best regular season in the past ten years have notably fallen short, with the last winner being the 2012-2013 Blackhawks, who beat the Bruins in the Stanley Cup Final. However, that was not the reason the Bruins lost in the first round, there are many reasons for the big upset. 

The first reason is turnovers that lead to goals. In game seven the Bruins committed 18 turnovers which is well above the league average. For a team with the least goals-against average, this was unlike the Bruins. These turnovers lead to costly goals which the Bruins could not reciprocate. In game six, the Bruins scored five goals and still lost to the Panthers.

Another reason the Bruins fell short was poor coaching decisions. A report after the series claimed that soon-to-be Vezina-winning goalie Linus Ullmark was dealing with a painful injury. Ullmark did not look like himself the entire series, letting large amounts of goals without being pulled. The Swedish goalie was statistically the best net-minder in the NHL by far this season, but not far behind him was back-up Jeremy Swayman, who made his first start in the series in game seven. If Ullmark was as injured as he looked, why was Swayman benched for so long? The move to play Swayman was too little too late, as he let in two save-able goals, one in the first period, and another with one minute left in the third period to tie the game.

This was not the only puzzling move Bruins first-year coach Jim Montgomery made during the series. In the previously mentioned game 6, Montgomery did not take Ullmark out for Swayman, though he let in five goals. Also, the coach never adjusted to the aggressive forecheck of the Panthers, as their defense struggled and could barely get the puck out of the zone, which pinned them deep in their zone and led to preventable goals. Lastly, the Bruins may have not been the great team that they claimed to be. The Bruins were still a good team, squads do not just accidentally get 65 wins. However, the Bruins did not look much better than the Panthers, who were an eight seed. The Nick Cousins, Mathew Tkachuk, and Sam Bennett line played better than any lines the Bruins put out. Defensemen Brandon Montour picked apart the Bruins, as they seemed to have no answer for him, which culminated in his goal with 58 seconds left in game seven. The Bruins star player David Pastranak, “underperformered, for a 60 goal scorer,” says junior Liam Arnold.

The Bruins for the past decade have been known to be terrible in the playoffs, suffering many painful losses and a decline in play from the regular season. This year’s Bruins were just regular season over-performers that vastly outplayed their talent from October to March, and once the playoffs came around it showed.  

New England Sports Networks’ Jack Edwards put it best when he said “This joyride ends in a Hindenburg-like ending.” The Bruins will still hold the record for most points and wins in a season, but the record will always have an asterisk next to it for a first-round exit, a fate no Bruins fan or player ever expected and wished for. Especially not aging veterans Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci, as this may be their last season ever. 

On April 8, Bruins’ Linus Ullmark (35) and Jeremy Swayman celebrate the team’s win over the New Jersey Devils in what looked to be a promising season at the time. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)