The matchups in the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs are set, and the first opponent for the record-breaking Boston Bruins is the Florida Panthers.
The Bruins are heavy betting favorites to win this series, which makes sense when you consider they just completed the greatest regular season in NHL history that included setting the records for the most wins (65) and most points (135).
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But the Panthers aren't a cupcake opponent.
They are a high-scoring team that played fantastic after the March 3 trade deadline to rise up the standings and secure a wild card playoff berth. The Panthers also are one of only two teams that beat the Bruins twice during the regular season.
What do Bruins players and head coach Jim Montgomery think of this Round 1 matchup? Here's what they said after Thursday night's 5-4 road win over the Montreal Canadiens.
- “They’re a really good team, very dangerous team. We’re going to have to be at the top of our game if we want to have success.”
- “(Matthew) Tkachuk, excellent player. (Aleksander) Barkov’s a stud. That’s two players on top of my mind right now. Besides that, they’re just a really fast team in transition.”
- "Rush defense against Florida is always going to give you a little bit of a pause." (via Bruins.com)
Jeremy Swayman, Goaltender
- "They're definitely an offensive team. It's going to be a fun series. We're looking forward to it. We can't wait to get on the ice. Definitely a worthy opponent." (via Bruins.com)
Charlie Coyle, Center
- "They played us tough. They're a good team. They have a lot of star power over there, guys who can score. They play hard. It won't be easy by any means. It's going to be a battle, and I think we're looking forward to that challenge against them. We're just excited to get going now that we know who we're playing." (via Bruins.com)
David Pastrnak, Right Wing
- "They're obviously a great team, so it's going to be a fun series. They've been playing playoff hockey for a while now. I'm really excited to get things going." (via Bruins.com)