The Boston Bruins have one more chance to eliminate the Florida Panthers from the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
After taking a 3-1 lead, the Bruins have lost back-to-back games and now are in danger of seeing their historic season come to a disastrous end. The result is a do-or-die Game 7 at TD Garden on Sunday night.
The Panthers deserve a lot of credit for getting back in this series. They are a resilient group, and they are feeding off the confidence of their superstar left wing Matthew Tkachuk. He has a team-leading 10 points (five goals, five assists) through six games, including a two-goal performance in Florida's dramatic 7-5 win in Game 6.
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But the Bruins have only themselves to blame for needing a Game 7 to win this series. They have been very sloppy with the puck and many of their giveaways have resulted in Panthers goals. In fact, probably nine or 10 of the Panthers' goals in this series have been a direct result of Bruins turnovers. Goaltending also has been a problem for the Bruins over the last two games. Linus Ullmark gave up a season-high six goals in Game 6, and his awful turnover in overtime of Game 5 cost the Bruins a chance to wrap up the series Wednesday night.
Will we see a goalie change for Game 7? Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery would not reveal any changes after his team's morning skate Friday. Jeremy Swayman gives the Bruins the best chance to win Game 7, but it wouldn't be shocking if Ullmark got the start. He's the likely Vezina Trophy winner and has gotten the B's this far.
We might see some other lineup changes, too. Trent Frederic is a good bet to return. He can give the Bruins some toughness and scoring depth in a bottom-six role. Matt Grzelcyk could re-enter the lineup as well, potentially on the first pairing next to Charlie McAvoy. Grzlecyk returning likely would result in Connor Clifton being a healthy scratch. Clifton played terribly in Game 6 and two of his turnovers wound up in Boston's net.
The Panthers are expected to use the same lineup as Game 6, which would mean Sergei Bobrovsky starts in net.
Here are the projected lines and pairings for both teams entering Game 7. We probably won't know which goalie is starting for the Bruins until the pre-game warmups.
BOSTON BRUINS (3-3)
Taylor Hall--Charlie Coyle--Tyler Bertuzzi
Trent Frederic--Tomas Nosek--Garnet Hathaway
Matt Grzelcyk--Charlie McAvoy
Hampus Lindholm--Brandon Carlo
Derek Forbort--Dmitry Orlov
FLORIDA PANTHERS (3-3)
Carter Verhaeghe--Aleksander Barkov--Anthony Duclair
Nick Cousins--Sam Bennett--Matthew Tkachuk
Eetu Luostarinen--Anton Lundell--Sam Reinhart
Colin White----Eric Staal--Zac Dalpe
Gustav Forsling--Aaron Ekblad
Marc Staal--Brandon Montour
Josh Mahura--Radko Gudas