It took all 82 games, but the Boston Bruins finally have an opponent for the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Carolina Hurricanes beat the Florida Panthers 6-4 in Thursday night's regular season finale. That means the Panthers have finished as the No. 2 wild card team in the Eastern Conference and will play the Bruins in Round 1.
The Bruins-Panthers series will begin Monday night at TD Garden in Boston.
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This will be just the second time the Bruins and Panthers have met in the playoffs. The first was the 1996 Eastern Conference quarterfinals when the Panthers eliminated the Bruins in five games en route to a Stanley Cup Final appearance.
Boston went 2-1-1 versus Florida during the regular season. The Panthers were actually one of only two teams (the Senators were the other) to beat the Bruins multiple times in 2022-23.
The Bruins will have home ice advantage in Round 1 and throughout the playoffs as the Presidents' Trophy winners with a 65-12-5 record. Boston also set league records for most wins and most points in a single regular season.
Expectations couldn't be higher for the Bruins. It's championship or bust after a record-breaking campaign.