After a historic 2022-23 regular season, the Boston Bruins postseason dreams of winning the Stanley Cup came to a crashing halt with a stunning first-round collapse against the Florida Panthers. Up 3-1, the Black and Gold lost the final three games, and all of a sudden, they enter a very long summer vacation with a lot of questions about what the roster will look like in September when they begin training camp at Warrior Ice Arena.
In the final edition of Bruins Weekly for the 2022-23 season, we look back at the collapse that the Bruins suffered against a pesky Panthers team.
Jim Montgomery’s Questionable Coaching Moves Backfire
After seemingly pushing the right buttons during the regular season, first-year coach Jim Montgomery made some questionable decisions, and most of them backfired. The biggest miss seems to be in goal which it was reported by Kevin Weekes of ESPN and NHL Network on Monday afternoon that the odds on favorite to win the Vezina Trophy this summer was playing with a ”debilitating & painful injury that limited his mobility and technique.” On Tuesday, Ullmark declined to say if he was injured, but it makes sense that he was playing through something as he didn’t look right as the series went on.
Ullmark noticeably was moving differently in Game 5 and in Game 6, he looked like he was fighting the puck, getting beat on some shots he would like to have had back and his puck control was not as good as it was in the regular season. If the report is true, then with a 3-1 series lead and rotating Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman all season long, it might have benefitted the team if Montgomery went to Swayman in Game 5 or even pulled Ullmark in Game 6 after Aleksander Barkov scored in the second period to give Florida a 3-2 lead. Changing goalies can spark a team, but a healthy Swayman in the third period could have very well closed out a game in which Boston scored five goals and allowed four in the final 20 minutes.
Another questionable decision was when Patrice Bergeron entered the lineup for the first time in Game 5, Montgomery moved Brad Marchand down to the second line instead of slotting Bergeron and Marchand together like they have been most of their careers. After eight minutes of game time, they were paired back together for the rest of the series, but it makes you wonder how much of an effect it had on them and caused the slow start in the game. Then there are the scratches that were done on defense. Matt Grzelcyk, one of the Bruins’ better puck-moving defensemen, was scratched in favor of Connor Clifton in Game 6. Clifton, who was one of the Bruins’ best defensemen during the regular season, took a bad penalty and had multiple giveaways, which included an ill-advised pass from the defensive zone to the neutral zone, which resulted in Matthew Tkachuk scoring on a rebound.
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I’m not implying that keeping Grzelcyk in the lineup in Game 6 would have meant the Bruins won that game and advanced, but with all the giveaways and turnovers, along with the sloppy play in the defensive end from everyone, it makes you wonder what could have been.
Bruins Go Winless In Final Three Games Bergeron Played In
File this under “something that you thought you would never see.” Bergeron missed the first four games with an injury he suffered in the regular season final on April 13 against the Montreal Canadiens on the road. The injury, first reported as an illness, caused him to not even fly to Florida for Games 3 and 4, but he returned to the lineup in Game 5.
In the final three games, the captain had a plus/minus of minus-6 with one goal on a power play strike in Game 5. He won 52 of his 74 faceoffs in the three games but was on the ice in Game 7 late in the third period that led to Brandon Montour’s goal that tied the game with 59 seconds left that forced overtime. Let’s be honest, Bergeron going into the lineup is not the reason why the Black and Gold lost the final three games, but it’s something that nobody envisioned when he returned.
Bergeron is still unclear about his future on whether or not he retires, but if this is how his career ends wearing the Spoked-B, it’s a stunning ending to a Hall of Fame career. One day, not too long after he officially retires, his No. 37 will hang from the TD Garden rafters.
Tyler Bertuzzi Increased His Value This Summer
When the Bruins acquired Tyler Bertuzzi at the trade deadline in March from the Detroit Red Wings, it didn’t take him long to fit in. He played well in 21 games after the trade with four goals and 12 assists, but he fit in on whichever line Montgomery put him on in the top nine. He quickly became one of the better forwards down the stretch heading into the postseason.
In the playoffs, he came up with some big goals in the series and finished with five goals and five assists. He was the most effective on the power play, getting to the front of the net and scoring and making plays to set up teammates. In Game 7, he got to the front of the net and tipped Dmitry Orlov’s shot past Sergei Bobrovsky to tie the game. He is an unrestricted free agent (UFA) this summer and will surely cash in on a big payday somewhere. It just most likely won’t be in Boston. He will go down as one of the top rentals the Bruins have had in a long time.
This puts the wraps on another Bruins season and another Bruins Weekly. It is going to be a very long summer for the Bruins with a ton of decisions that the front office needs to make. Stick with The Hockey Writers for all your news and opinions on the offseason ahead for the Black and Gold.