BOSTON — The Boston Bruins made it a step further than they did last season even after saying goodbye to some critical pieces like Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci.

But did the Bruins overachieve, underachieve or just plain meet expectations this season?

Bruins captain Brad Marchand had a clear answer to that question as he reflected on Boston’s campaign in the immediate aftermath of a stinging season-ending loss to the Florida Panthers in Game 6 on Friday night at TD Garden.

“I really can’t even put into words how proud I am of this group,” Marchand said. “From where we started, the expectations to start the season, everybody wrote us off, said we wouldn’t even be a playoff team and we were one of the best teams in the league.

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“We had a lot of new guys, a lot of new roles. And guys came in, and we built something special. Started in the room and carried onto the ice. We had some hiccups along the way, but from where we started to where we finished, I couldn’t be more proud of the guys.”

The Bruins finished the regular season with a 47-20-15 record and 109 points — just five points shy of the New York Rangers for most in the league — before winning their opening-round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs in a seven-game thriller.

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But it was hard to take complete solace in that after Boston lost its eighth playoff game on home ice over the past two seasons. Marchand said it was “disappointing” with how things ended to the Panthers, feeling the Bruins still had more left to give in their Stanley Cup playoff run.

But Marchand wasn’t going to let Boston’s finish completely deter from a season in which he saw growth not only from himself, but also from many of his teammates.

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“Just seeing different guys flourish in different roles and the stories that came from the season,” Marchand said. “Mason (Lohrei) was one of our best defensemen by the end of the year. (Justin Brazeau) being on a one-way deal in the American League and pretty much solidifying him a spot for next year. I mean, I could go on and on. I couldn’t be more proud of every guy in this room.

“Not just who they are as players, but even better people. That’s what makes it so fun coming to the rink every day is who we get to be with, who we get to play with and you’re all with. So, it was a special year.”

Featured image via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images