Bruins' extra day off in Eastern 2nd Round 'beneficial for everybody'

16 May 2024

BEDFORD, Mass. -- The Boston Bruins can take a second to breathe for the first time in more than two weeks.

Their 2-1 win against the Florida Panthers in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Second Round on Tuesday was their eighth game in 15 days, dating to Game 5 of the first round against the Toronto Maple Leafs on April 30.

But with Game 6 against Florida to be played Friday at TD Garden, the extra day off couldn’t come at a better time. Boston trails 3-2 in the best-of-7 series.

“You like it at this [point],” Bruins coach Jim Montgomery said Wednesday. “This is when in the series you feel like it’s beneficial for everybody.”

In this case, it allows an extra day of recovery for Brad Marchand, who has missed the past two games with an upper-body injury. The Bruins captain remains day to day after exiting Game 3 on May 10 following a hit from Panthers center Sam Bennett.

It should also benefit goalie Jeremy Swayman, who has arguably been Boston’s best player in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. After splitting time with Linus Ullmark during the regular season, Swayman has started 11 of the Bruins’ 12 playoff games so far, including each of the past 10.

The 25-year-old had never started more than five games in a row prior to this postseason. He has a 2.16 goals-against average and .933 save percentage despite facing the most shots in the League (345).

Montgomery said the Bruins will continue to monitor Swayman’s workload but considers it a “moot point’ with an extra day off before Game 6.

“There’s a confidence and an air about [Swayman] that he’s invincible, which makes us really confident that we’re in a good place,” Montgomery said. “Like the pulled-goalie situation [in Game 5 against Florida], I was behind the bench. I’m like, ‘They’re not scoring; we have Swayman in nets.’”

The Bruins are attempting to do to Florida what it did to Boston last season, overcome a 3-1 series deficit, to advance to the conference final. But even after taking a step in the right direction Tuesday, Montgomery knows his team still has a mountain to climb.

Still, the coach liked his team's puck decisions and its structure in the defensive zone in Game 5 compared to earlier in the series. though he still believes it can create more time in the offensive zone. That will all be addressed in preparation for Friday, but there’s only one focus at the moment.

“[We’re] loose,” Montgomery said. “We’re just thinking about getting rest before Game 6.”

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