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Preview: Bruins ready to take on Panthers in Game 1 in playoffs’ first round

It feels like Christmas morning! Playoff hockey is here!

Boston Bruins v Florida Panthers Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

Just the facts

When: Tonight, 7:30 PM

Where: TD Garden – Boston, MA

How to follow: NESN, ESPN, CBC, TVAS, SNE, SNO, SNP, 98.5 The Sports Hub

Know your enemy

Regular season stats heading into playoffs:

  • Matthew Tkachuk: 79GP, 40G, 69A, 109PTS; Aleksander Barkov: 68GP, 23G, 55A, 78PTS; Carter Verhaeghe: 81GP, 42G, 31A, 73PTS
  • Alex Lyon: 9-4-2, 2.89 GAA, .914 save percentage; Sergei Bobrovsky: 24-20-3, 3.07 GAA, .901 save percentage

Game notes

  • The playoffs are here! Everything is reset to zero and a clean slate!
  • The Boston Bruins host the Florida Panthers for Game 1 of the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup playoffs tonight at the TD Garden!
  • It came down to the end to determine the Bruins opponent for the round. The Panthers made a push at the end, even though they dropped the last two games with one regulation loss and one in overtime.
  • The Bruins could be without Patrice Bergeron to start the series. Bergeron missed both Saturday and Sunday practice due to what GM Don Sweeney said was a combination of an injury and illness. Sweeney felt Bergeron didn’t need the extra practice days. He said the team will know better today and if he’s ready to go then he will play.
  • It’s still slightly concerning — but again, hopefully there will be more answers after today’s morning skate on Bergeron’s status.
  • In Bergeron’s absence, Pavel Zacha centered Brad Marchand and Jake DeBrusk yesterday at practice. David Krejci centered the second line with Tyler Bertuzzi and David Pastrnak on his wings.
  • Bruins management is confident in Zacha to fill the role if need be. Zacha had a career year this season with the Bruins, hitting 57 points and becoming an offensive force.
  • The B’s depth is at a near perfect status. Taylor Hall returned just in time to get a few regular season games under his belt returning from injury before playoffs. Nick Foligno looks like he’ll likely be ready for Game 1’s puck drop — even though it has not been confirmed. And the same goes for Derek Forbort.
  • David Krejci could also play tonight. He’s been a full participant at the last couple of practices after missing the final six games of the regular season.
  • Cam Neely told reporters yesterday he feels Florida plays a strong offensive game with agitators up front. He said the Bruins will have to counter that by playing smart and under control while not giving up any costly turnovers.
  • The Bruins were 2-1-1 against the Panthers this season. The Bruins last saw the Panthers on Jan. 28. Head-to-head, the Bruins outscored the Panthers, 17 to 15. The Bruins netted went four for 17 on the power play against the Panthers. Florida’s power play scored on three out of 15 man-advantages.
  • Sam Bennett missed the last 12 games of the regular season for Florida due to an undisclosed injury. The Panthers reported he skated yesterday before heading to Boston and there’s a chance he could return during the series.
  • Alex Lyon started in net the last eight games for the Panthers after Sergei was hit with an illness. He went 6-1-1 in that stretch.
  • Linus Ullmark was back at practice yesterday and said he feels good. It’s still undecided who will start tonight.
  • See ya tonight!