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Surprise; Maple Leafs Meet Panthers Not Bruins: Easier or Not?

The Toronto Maple Leafs were fully expecting to meet the Boston Bruins in Round 2. Can the Maple Leafs beat the Florida Panthers more easily?

The NHL playoffs are heating up, and yet another surprise was waiting tonight. That changes things for the Toronto Maple Leafs who, for the first time in their history, will meet the Florida Panthers during a postseason round.

Honestly, who saw that coming? I thought the Boston Bruins could be beaten, but I fully expected the Maple Leafs (if they won) to have the best chance to do it. In fact, I was a bit hopeful about the possibility of the two Original 6 teams meeting. Yet, when the ice chips melted in Boston, it was the Panthers who emerged as the victors.

The Panthers earned their spot in the second round by eliminating the heavily-favored Bruins in a Game 7 overtime thriller. Now, what does this Panthers’ victory mean for their upcoming matchup with Toronto?

One thing my quick research did was to discover that an NHL team (before 2020) generated up to $3 million in extra revenue for hosting each home game. That’s significant.


Panthers Upset Bruins in Game 7 Overtime

The Panthers upset victory over the Boston Bruins eliminated the Presidents’ Trophy winners in a thrilling Game 7 overtime match. The Panthers were behind by a score of 3-2 with just a minute left in regulation, but they managed to tie it up and then score the winning goal in overtime.

The Bruins had a disappointing end to their season. They lost in Game 7 after blowing a 3-1 series advantage. It happens only rarely that a President’s Trophy winner (the NHL team with the most points at the end of the regular season) loses in the first round of the postseason. In fact, the Bruins are only the second team to do so since 2010.

The Panthers finished an incredible 43 points behind the Bruins during the regular season, which suggests just how crazy the NHL postseason can be. The Stanley Cup playoffs are exciting in part because they are so unpredictable.

Does This Mean that the Maple Leafs’ Next Step to the Stanley Cup Is Less Bumpy?

With the Bruins out of the picture, the Maple Leafs’ path to the Stanley Cup just got a little easier – or, did it? The Bruins were heavily favored to win it all this year, and the Panthers rose up to knock them off.

On paper, that’s good news for the Maple Leafs. However, the Panthers are on a roll. While they struggled during the regular season, they snuck into the playoffs because they played with a sense of desperation. They are continuing in that tradition.

Related: Three Takeaways from Maple Leafs Series-Clinching 2-1 OT Win

The Panthers will be the underdog in Round 2, and that can be a powerful motivator in the playoffs. Similar to the Maple Leafs and Tampa Bay Lightning series, the Panthers were out-possessed by their opponents at five-on-five play. However, they generated a large number of high-danger chances and expected goals. In short, they had more scoring opportunities.

Also similar to the Maple Leafs/Lightning series, the Panthers’ goalie play was superior to the Bruins. As the Maple Leafs found out, goaltending is a key factor in the playoffs. In their playoff series, Ilya Samsonov outdueled Andrei Vasilevskiy. Similarly, the Panthers got a strong game from Sergei Bobrovsky when it mattered most.

Ilya Samsonov, Maple Leafs

My point is that the Panthers might just be a tougher opponent than their regular-season record suggests. Their recent play in this round-one series suggests that the Maple Leafs might face a formidable challenge in their next round of the playoffs.

What a Surprise, What’s It Like to Be Boston?

The NHL playoffs are always full of surprises, and this year is no exception. While the Panthers pulled off an impressive upset, on the other end of the stick the Bruins fell hard. The Bruins only lost 12 games of 82 during the regular season, over these last seven games they Bruins lost four games of the seven they played. That had to be a surprise.

The Panthers are now set to face off against the Maple Leafs in the second round. Can the Maple Leafs can take advantage of the Bruins’ elimination to make a run for the Stanley Cup? We’ll know soon.

Related: Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Defining Moments & Round 1 Heroes



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  3. gfinale

    May 1, 2023 at 10:34 am

    The Bruins dominated for many years, winning Cups but they have aged and some key players have left or retired including a tremendous goalie or two. Where they were tough, could morph into any way/style that suited and had a gear beyond they could switch into when needed, they were missing too much of that this playoffs.

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