Beantown Rundown: Bruins cannot rest on regular season achievements after Game 2 defeat

There’s an old saying that the playoffs don’t start until you lose your first game. For the Boston Bruins, it appears as if the playoffs got underway in a hurry on Wednesday night. After comfortably winning Game 1 against the Florida Panthers, the Bruins unraveled in the third period of Game 2, suffering a 6-3 loss after losing the final frame by a score of 4-1.

The Bruins have obviously been a juggernaut for much of the season, but you can make a case that this was their worst game of the season. The offense was uninspiring for much of the night, the defense was wildly sloppy, and Linus Ullmark, who admittedly was left out to dry for much of the night, did not have a particularly great performance.

Now, Boston finds themselves in a best of five series against a hot Panthers team that also happens to have home ice advantage now. The B’s haven’t faced much adversity on the season, but they are facing some early on in the playoffs here. And in order to get through this series, and go on a deep playoff run in general, the Bruins aren’t going to be able to afford to rest on the achievements of their historic regular season campaign.

The Bruins are going to have to find new ways to win in the playoffs

Regardless of whether or not they want to admit it, the Bruins are going to have a target on their back for as long as they are in the playoffs. When you break the single-season record for wins and points, you are going to get the best punch from your opponent all throughout the playoffs. That’s what is happening with Florida right now.

Boston controlled the play for much of the first two periods in Game 2, and managed to overcome two one-goal deficits in the second period. Given how good they have been in the third period all season long, it was safe to expect them to take control of the game the same way they did in Game 1, when they completely blanketed the Panthers and their comeback attempt.

Instead, Brandon Montour scored Florida’s third goal of the night just 22 seconds into the third period, and the Panthers never looked back. The Bruins said after the game that they believed they could catch their breath after a hectic second and respond in the third, but they became quite flustered after Montour’s goal. That’s the difference between playoff hockey and regular season hockey.

Of course, if there’s any team that knows this, it’s the Bruins. Their core group has been on several deep playoff runs, and they understand the ebbs and flows of the playoffs. But like everything else for Boston this season, it’s all different. That’s what happens when you rewrite the record books before the playoffs even start.

The Bruins are saying all the right things in the media, but on the ice, the results have been rather worrisome early on. Boston didn’t look great in Game 1, and they weren’t able to take advantage of a strong start in Game 2. Again, this team hasn’t faced a lot of adversity throughout the season; how will they respond moving forward?

The commentary from fans suggesting that because this team won 65 games in the regular season they are bound to figure things out is foolish. The regular season has no bearing on the postseason once the games get underway. Florida might be the lowest seed in the Eastern Conference, but they have a leg up on Boston as this series shifts back to the FLA Live Arena.

Boston is going to have to adjust in a big way now. They cannot afford to keep resting Patrice Bergeron because they feel like it; he needs to be on the ice in Game 3. Leaving Matt Grzelcyk on the bench in favor of Derek Forbort seemed like a foolish decision entering the series, and after an awful game on defense, he should be on the ice for Game 3 as well. Swapping Ullmark out with Jeremy Swayman is something that should be considered too, although it’s certainly not as pressing of a decision.

Through two games, the Bruins have played like a team that thinks they will steamroll the competition, because that’s what they did all throughout the regular season. Bergeron is injured, yes, but it’s the playoffs; Bergeron has almost certainly played through worse injuries than the one he is dealing with right now. You cannot afford to give teams any rope in the postseason, but Boston is basically daring Florida to beat them right now.

And with the series knotted at one now, it’s clear that the B’s are playing with fire. They have built enough goodwill to make fans believe this is something they can bounce back from, but the team needs to stop playing like it’s the regular season. If they lose three more games, their magical season is over. The margin for error has been significantly reduced, and with the first loss of the playoffs in the book, it’s time to see what this Bruins team is really made of.

The post Beantown Rundown: Bruins cannot rest on regular season achievements after Game 2 defeat appeared first on ClutchPoints.

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