The Boston Bruins Centennial Season came to an abrupt halt on Friday night. A 2-1 loss to Florida eliminated them from the Stanley Cup Playoffs in six games.
Gustav Forsling scored with just over ninety seconds left in regulation, and the Bruins were cat-scraped for the second year in a row.

Coming off their best performance of the series, the Bruins were brimming with optimism coming back home. Despite sloppy play reminiscent of earlier home games in these playoffs, Boston took first blood.

Pavel Zacha broke loose off a backhand feed from Jake DeBrusk and beat Bobrovsky to score his first playoff goal. Zacha’s goal wrapped up the first period on a high note, even though the Bruins didn’t play all that well.

One of the key differentiators in game five was Boston’s ability to get the puck out of the zone quickly. Florida had been feasting on second and third chances all series because the B’s couldn’t clear the blueline, and game six was more of the same.

The Bruins committed six giveaways in the first period and escaped unscathed, but that luck wouldn’t last.

With just over seven minutes left in the second, Anton Lundell jumped on a loose puck in the slot and wired a shot by Swayman to tie the game. Three Bruins failed to clear the puck out of the zone, and the Cats took advantage.

From that point, Florida smelled blood, recording eleven of the next thirteen shots on goal. Meanwhile, the Bruins committed an NHL record seventh Too Many Men Penalty in one postseason.

The third period was essentially Boston holding on for dear life.

The Cats once again controlled the bulk of play while Boston struggled to get shots through to the net. That’s not to say the Bruins didn’t get quality chances, but the ones they generated failed to break through.

With just a minute and a half to go, Gustav Forsling whipped a rebound by Swayman to stun Boston once again. Nothing less than a perfect shot, the puck snuck through Parker Wotherspoon’s legs and just inside the post. The Bruins failed to generate anything in the dying seconds and were Cat scratched for the second year in a row.

The Bruins bowed out, having lost all three home games in the series.

Their failure to protect home ice is officially DEFCON 1.

For the 2024 playoffs as a whole, the Bruins lost five of their seven games at TD Garden. Dating back to last year, they’ve lost six straight home playoff games against Florida.

According to Dale Arnold of NESN, the Bruins’ playoff home record is an abhorrent 22-27, dating back to the 2013 Stanley Cup Final. Including that Final series, they’ve been eliminated at home on six occasions.

The prevailing post-mortem narrative for the Bruins season has been positive. But others disagree.

The B’s definitely overachieved in the regular season and playoffs with the roster they had. It’s hard to expect much from a team with Morgan Geekie playing in the top six and Justin Brazeau on the power play.  Yet they still won a series.

However, in the same vein, they played extremely sloppy for most of the playoffs and owe the majority of their run to Jeremy Swayman. They only mustered more than two goals once in their last nine playoff games. If not for his exceptional performance, Toronto would have beaten the Bruins in maybe six.

Even with all that, the opportunities were there. The Bruins held a lead in three of their four losses but couldn’t hold on. Pastrnak, DeBrusk, Coyle, and others failed to bury enough chances to make Florida pay.

Instead of a possible Conference Finals run, Don Sweeney & Co are heading into yet another summer of uncertainty. They have a lot of cap space to play with but a lot of free agents to sign.
There’s a gaping hole at the top-line center, and the Linus Ullmark question is only going to burn brighter.

PHOTO: Getty Images

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