In this edition of Boston Bruins News & Rumors, Linus Ullmark has been given the nod as the starting goaltender for Game 1 versus the Carolina Hurricanes. In other news, Patrice Bergeron was able to hit a huge milestone this past week. Meanwhile, despite spending the majority of the season in the American Hockey League (AHL), Chris Wagner may have earned himself a spot in the Bruins’ lineup for the playoffs. Last but not least, head coach Bruce Cassidy gave his expectations on what he expects to see between his team and the Canes in the opening round.
Ullmark Named Game 1 Starter
There had been plenty of chatter amongst Bruins fans in recent weeks about who between Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman would be the teams starting netminder come playoff time. It seemed a fair debate given that both had themselves solid regular seasons while neither has any playoff experience at the NHL level. That decision has now been made, however, as it will be Ullmark between the pipes for Game 1 versus the Hurricanes.
Given how well he played to close out the season, most would agree that this is the right decision by Cassidy. After a somewhat shaky start to the 2021-22 campaign, Ullmark ramped up his play through the second half and finished his season with wins in five of his last six starts. Through the month of April, he recorded a sizzling 1.41 goals against average along with a .950 save percentage.
Bergeron Hits Illustrious Milestone
In what ended up being his final regular season game on Thursday night against the Buffalo Sabres, Bergeron was able to score a hat-trick in what was a 5-0 win. The hat-trick itself was impressive, but what made it even more spectacular was that his third of the evening marked the 400th goal of his outstanding career.
With no contract in place for next season, many have speculated what the future may hold for Bergeron. That is what makes moments like Thursday so special for this fan base, who have had the pleasure of witnessing his outstanding 1,216-game career. Despite being 36-years-old, he proved this season that he still has plenty left in him, making the Bruins a threat in the East this spring.
Wagner in the Running for Spot in Playoff Lineup
After spending the first 62 games of the 2021-22 season in the AHL, Wagner was recalled prior to the Bruins’ final game versus the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday. Though his team lost by a 5-2 final, he had a spectacular performance, registering 11 hits while directing three shots at the Leafs’ net. After the game, Cassidy had plenty of praise for the 359-game veteran.
“I thought [Wagner] played very well,” Cassidy told reporters. “He played to his strengths. He finished every check, was around the front of the net and he had a few looks around the front of the net.”
Cassidy went on to say that with Wagner’s NHL experience, which includes 56 career playoff games, he and the rest of the coaching staff are strongly considering keeping him in the lineup moving forward. There is no denying that his physical presence could be beneficial against the Canes, and he deserves a ton of credit for how he handled what was a difficult season for him.
Cassidy Gives Expectations For Series Versus Hurricanes
Despite finishing the regular season with nine fewer points, many expect the Bruins to make things difficult for the Hurricanes in the opening round of the playoffs. This series is being viewed by most as one that could come right down to the wire, a sentiment which Cassidy seems to agree with.
“We expect Carolina to be a difficult opponent,” Cassidy said. “They press, they’re a great skating team, they check well. We feel we can do the same thing, so it should be a great series.”
While the series is expected to be close, however, the season series between these two was far from. The Bruins lost all three of their games against the Canes in 2021-22 while being outscored in a massive way at 16-1. It should be noted however that their play for a good chunk of this season was extremely inconsistent, and it wasn’t until after all three of those games that they truly began to hit their stride.
Up Next for the Bruins
The first game in the Bruins’ best of seven series versus the Hurricanes will take place on Monday night in Raleigh. Game 2 will take place on Wednesday, before the two will head to Boston to play Game 3 at TD Garden on Friday, followed by Game 4 on Sunday afternoon. It is extremely unlikely that this series will be over by this point next week, though anything is possible at this time of the year.
Colton Pankiw is a former Jr. A hockey player who now provides his knowledge of the game through writing. He’s been a very active and reliable source for nearly two years at The Hockey Writers. He is a credentialed writer for the Calgary Flames but also does features on other teams throughout the league. Other writing contributions include: Yahoo Sports, Las Vegas Chronicle, Oil On Whyte, and Markerzone.com. Colton is also a co-host of both Oilers Overtime and Flames Faceoff podcasts. Any interview requests or content info can be made through him on Twitter. Take a look at his work here.