In the last seven days, there has been some good news and bad news for the Boston Bruins. After the dust settled in Game 4 of their first-round playoff series against the Florida Panthers on Sunday night (April 23), they hold a 3-1 series lead, needing to win one out of three games to advance to the second round.
While they are in a good place series-wise, they are not when it comes to injuries. With that said, it’s time to get the first playoff edition of Bruins’ 3 Up, 3 Down going.
Plus One: Charlie Coyle
If there has been one player who has been consistent through the first four games for the Bruins and that’s Charlie Coyle. He has moved up and down the lineup for Jim Montgomery, centering the third line and then moving up to the first line in Florida.
He has been tough for the Panthers to knock off the puck, he has taken a lot of hits and in some instances, he’s been the one that’s been left standing and Florida players hitting the ice. In Game 3, he scored a second-period goal when he redirected Brad Marchand’s shot past Alex Lyon to give the Black and Gold a two-goal lead. He is a big reason why the Bruins look to win the series heading back to Boston for Game 5.
Minus One: Patrice Bergeron & David Krejci’s Injuries
The Bruins have played the last two games minus Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci. Bergeron has yet to play in the first four games as he stayed behind in Boston recovering from an injury in Game 82 of the regular season against the Montreal Canadiens. Krejci on the other hand played in the first two, but missed the last two.
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Krejci took the pregame warmup skate ahead of Game 3 but was scratched at the last second and replaced by Nick Foligno. Montgomery said before Game 4 that the Bruins’ second-line center is unlikely for Game 5, which is a cause for concern. Boston is hopeful that Bergeron is available for Game 5 as they could use their captain back in the lineup at the face-off dot.
Plus Two: Taylor Hall
It might have seemed like a garbage goal at the end of Game 2 in the Bruins’ 6-3 loss on April 19, but to Taylor Hall, it was a confidence builder. He got to play in the final three games of the regular season recovering from a February injury, but he looked like someone who was trying to get back into game shape.
After scoring with 1:10 remaining in Game 2, he got the scoring started in Game 3, just 2:26 into the game when he took a stretch pass from Dmitry Orlov, broke into the offensive zone and his wrist shot broke through Alex Lyon for the game first goal and helped the Bruins seize the early momentum in a key game in the series. In Game 4, he assisted on Jake DeBrusk’s second-period power-play goal, before scoring two third-period goals and finishing with a pair of assists. Seven points in three games from Hall, who also picked up an assist in Game 3, is what the Bruins need in the playoffs.
Minus Two: Bruins Defensive Zone Exits
The first two games of the series were troublesome for the Bruins when it came to clearing the puck out of the defensive zone. They survived Game 1 to win 3-1, but it ended up being their undoing in Game 2 with 15 giveaways. They improved on that a little bit in Games 3 and 4 in Florida by inserting Matt Grzelcyk into the lineup, but they still had their issues in spots. It’s something that needs to clean up.
Plus Three: Jake DeBrusk
Thirteen months ago, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that Jake DeBrusk had played his last game as a Bruin and was going to be moved at the 2022 trade deadline. General manager (GM) Don Sweeney held onto the 14th overall pick of the 2015 Entry Draft and he is responding with a career year.
After scoring 27 goals in the regular season, he came up with two big ones in Game 4. He scored on the power play in the second period, then scored off a rebound of a Pavel Zacha shot in the third period for a two-goal lead. He has primarily spent time on the first line, but he shifted down to the third line in Game 4 and responded with a goal. Sometimes the best trades are the ones you don’t make.
Minus Three: End of Game Shenanigans
Games 2 and 4 were all but decided in the final four minutes and both teams took turns in getting into some shady shenanigans. Tomas Nosek went high with an elbow on Eric Stall in Game 2 and did not receive a penalty or a call from NHLPlayer of Department Safety. In Game 4, Matthew Tkachuk and the Panthers returned the favor by going after Linus Ullmark and causing some fist-a-cuffs to break out. As far as the Bruins, the quicker they can close out the series the better. You always hold your breath with late-game run-ins in a playoff series as teams set the tone for the next game.
The Bruins will look to close out the Panthers in their first opportunity on Wednesday night at the TD Garden, but the close-out game is always the toughest to get in sports in the postseason. Doing it as early as possible gives some injured bodies some chance to rest up.