The Bruins suffered a heartbreaker, but there still are reasons to have a glass-half-full view of the centennial season.

Boston’s season ended Friday night after it lost to the Florida Panthers in Game 6 at TD Garden. There was obvious disappointment after the loss, but multiple players expressed their gratitude, and it’s clear the struggles they went through helped strengthen their bonds with each other.

Before we get into what went wrong and what comes in the future for the Black and Gold, let’s highlight two standout players from this postseason.

Jeremy Swayman
The Boston netminder has a strong case for being called the B’s best player in the Stanley Cup playoffs. He was among the playoff leaders in save percentage and goals against average, and it was clear the 2022-23 William M. Jennings winner elevated his game to the next level. Fans sent their appreciation for the fourth-year goalie after the game, and he’s reciprocated that love time and time again. We’ll get into Swayman’s future, but it’s hard not to get excited to see more from the netminder.

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Brad Marchand
While the NHL hasn’t let go of the veteran’s reputation, Marchand stepped up well for the Bruins as the franchise’s 27th captain. Fans saw how much respect the 36-year-old carries in the locker room amid his absence in the second round. Marchand has been the tone-setter for Boston, and he showed again this season why he’s one of the best at his position. The 15th-year forward was also correct in pointing out how the Black and Gold surpassed expectations. There were multiple questions about how well the Bruins would transition after Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci retired, but Marchand led the way to maintain the team’s culture.

Scoring chances
One of the glaring issues the second round showcased was the Bruins’ lack of firepower. There was strong optimism after Boston beat Florida, 5-1, in Game 1. However, the B’s only scored two goals or less for the rest of the series. Head coach Jim Montgomery acknowledged it’s very difficult to try to win every game 2-1. The Panthers outshot the Bruins, 203-130, in the series and also outscored Boston, 19-13. The Black and Gold had solid chances, but they weren’t able to capitalize. Montgomery also acknowledged throughout the series the Bruins aren’t a volume-shooting team, but Florida did a good job of stymieing Boston’s efficiency.

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What also didn’t help were the penalties. The Bruins set the record for most too-many-men penalties in the postseason, and while Boston’s penalty kill overall did well to limit the Panthers, playing on your heels isn’t going to help scoring chances either. You can say what you want about the officiating in the series, but the hand the Bruins dealt themselves with penalties didn’t do any favors for the rhythm of the offense.

Offseason
Let’s first acknowledge general manager Don Sweeney’s great job at retooling the roster after they went all in last season. Charlie Coyle and Pavel Zacha stepped up after Bergeron and Krejci retired. Danton Heinen and James van Riemsdyk were steals at their respective deals.

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However, the roster fell short again in the postseason. It will be interesting to see how Sweeney and his staff choose to balance regular-season success and postseason readiness when it comes to player acquisitions this offseason.

Boston will have seven players enter unrestricted free agency: Jake DeBrusk, van Riemsdyk, Pat Maroon, Heinen, Matt Grzelcyk, Derek Forbort, Kevin Shattenkirk and Milan Lucic. Jesper Boqvist and Swayman also are the team’s notable restricted free agents.

Re-signing Swayam should be priority No. 1. He’s in the prime years of his career, and it would not be surprising if he stepped up his player next season to be in Vezina conversations. Of course, the Bruins will have to decide what re-signing Swayman means for Linus Ullmark, who only played one game this postseason.

As for the rest of the roster, tough decisions will need to be made. Again, there might be conversations as to what to prioritize for the roster. There also are young players like Matt Poitras, John Beecher and Mason Lohrei, who look primed to be the future stars of the franchise. Boston also has other prospects it will have to decide are NHL-ready or not — Fabian Lysell, John Farinacci, Brett Harrison and Georgii Merkulov are among those who could be up for consideration.

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While it’s easy to be down after a heartbreaking loss, if the Bruins retool the roster and find reinforcements in the offseason, Boston should be back in Atlantic Division contention and the mix for a Stanley Cup.

Featured image via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images