NHL Experts Call Bruins Patrice Bergeron’s Team Ahead Of Return

'When they get Patrice Bergeron back, obviously they only get that much better'


Apr 25, 2023

The Boston Bruins are one win away from closing out their opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs and are expected to get an extra boost in Game 5 on Wednesday night.

Barring any setbacks, captain Patrice Bergeron is set to make his postseason debut as the Bruins look to wrap up the best-of-seven series, and having him in the lineup only makes Boston that much deeper.

“It’s his team,” Mike Rupp said regarding the center’s inevitable return to the ice on NHL Network’s NHL Tonight. “I don’t know the intangibles. I don’t know what he’s dealing with, but if he can (come back), then it’s not a question. I hate to say this.

“We want every player to be healthy and want the best team or teams going at it with their best lineup. But they can legitimately have three or four key guys (out), and I have to think they’re just fine, and we’re seeing that they have so much depth.”

The Bruins hold the 3-1 series lead, but there are no guarantees in sports, and history has shown us no lead is safe until the final buzzer. However, the Black and Gold depth has been a key factor in each of Boston’s wins, and Ken Daneyko agreed with Rupp.

“That’s the luxury of the Boston Bruins,” Daneyko told Rupp and NHL Tonight host Jamison Coyle. “But when they get Patrice Bergeron back, obviously, they only get that better. He is the leader of, the inspirational force for the Boston Bruins.”

It hasn’t gone unnoticed by Rupp and Daneyko how hard the Panthers have played the Bruins in the series, but both believe Boston will be too tough to eliminate in a seven-game series.

“Boston again, they did it all season-long work. Some nights they’re going to get outplayed,” Daneyko said. “They understand what it takes to win. They’ll be opportunistic. They’ll score a timely powerplay goal. They’ll get a big save.”

Former Panther Bill Lindsay said Florida will need to play as they did in Game 2 to have a shot at coming back in the series.

“They controlled a lot (of the pace) and put pressure on Boston,” Lindsay said on NHL Tonight. “They created some turnovers, and they were able to get the lead in game number two. That was critical. … The Panthers feasted off turnovers. Their blue line was really good.”

Lindsay said he noticed the difference in Boston’s play in Game 3.

“They came up with a purpose Boston did,” Lindsay said. “This Boston team and what they can do and how they can shut you down. They were physical. They were all over the ice. … The Panthers have to find a way to get a lead somehow some way if they do they have a chance. If they don’t, it’s gonna be an extremely uphill battle.”

Devan Dubnyk said the X-factor is Bergeron.

“He’s such a huge part of this group,” Dubnyk said. “And when you’ve got them playing as well as they’ve been playing, and now you’re adding Patrice Bergeron. No disrespect to Florida I don’t love their chances in Boston when you’re adding Patrice Bergeron back in.”

Dubnyk added that part of the Panthers’ win was the uncharacteristic play of Boston in Game 2.

“The Panthers have worked hard, and they’ve done a good job keeping it competitive against the best team in the NHL,” Dubnyk said. “But I think that win had just as much to do with Boston as it had to do with Florida. And that’s not great for the Panthers.”

The Panthers will not just lay down and let the Bruins roll over them. Boston will need to play their style of hockey in order to defeat Florida and get some rest before moving on to the second round. Puck drop from TD Garden is set for 7 p.m. ET, and you can watch it live on NESN after an hour of pregame coverage.

Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images
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