BOSTON — The Bruins have a familiar foe in front of them as the Stanley Cup Playoffs commence for the 2023-24 NHL season.

After a second-place finish in the Atlantic Division, the Boston Bruins are locked in to face the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round.

Stop us if you’ve heard that before.

Two immediate themes come to mind as the Bruins approach a pivotal run for the franchise: redemption for last year’s historic team and adding another chapter to a recent raucous rivalry.

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The Bruins set records left and right on their way to winning the President Trophy last season. That all went out the window when Boston could not finish off a 3-1 series lead and suffered elimination on their home ice against the Florida Panthers in the first round. There’s no time like now to erase those deep wounds, though Bruins players are focused on the value of postseason experience as a whole.

“It doesn’t matter who it is throughout the entire playoffs,” Bruins captain Brad Marchand told reporters Tuesday night. “Everybody’s good. Everyone’s in the playoffs for a reason. You see it every night. You saw it tonight. Every team can win if you’re not prepared to play. That’s the same in the playoffs. Both teams are very good.”

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“It’s a whole different beast,” Linus Ullmark told reporters. “It’s a lot of emotions. A lot of adrenaline. Everything becomes more fun. I’m very excited about what’s to come.”

The first step to redemption and the crowning goal of hoisting the Stanley Cup comes with Toronto, a team that Boston eliminated three times in seven years in the first round during the 2010s. All three times, the Bruins gave the finishing blow to the Maple Leafs in Game 7 on TD Garden ice. The most memorable of all came in historic comeback fashion in 2013 when the Bruins scored three goals in the third period to force overtime. Patrice Bergeron ultimately found the back of the net to send the Boston crowd into a frenzy and send a stunned Toronto team home.

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Boston did the same in 2018 and 2019 in more convincing fashion. Now, the Bruins get the chance to add a fourth series win into a rivalry that offered electrifying matchups before.

The Bruins do have some work to do after losing the final two games of a 47-win campaign. Boston swept the season series from Toronto but needs to fine-tune details to achieve greater consistency as a whole. As for the mindset, the Bruins know what’s at stake.

“We’ve been playing within the structure and giving ourselves a chance to win every night,” Marchand said. “If we do that in the playoffs, we’ll be tough to play against. Everything changes. The pace is higher. There’s more on the line. We’ve got to make sure we bring it.”

“You don’t go out there to lose,” Ullmark said. “You go out there to win every game, gain confidence and feel that you have that swagger with you.”

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Boston made clear in the locker room Tuesday night, even before the matchups became official, that one opponent over another did not matter to the team. So, what are the Bruins embracing?

The chance to keep playing and the pure passion that comes with playoff hockey.

“It’s probably the most fun there is in the whole wide world,” Ullmark said. “It’s very exciting. It’s something you look forward to. It’s something that you miss if you don’t get there.”

The teams prepare for another all-out war as the NHL playoffs begin on Saturday. For the Bruins, the ultimate goal remains in the front of their minds.

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“We have an opportunity to play for a cup,” Marchand said. “That’s all you want to start the year. We’re excited to get going.”

Featured image via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images