5 things to watch for in the Boston Bruins/Florida Panthers series

Boston Bruins, Linus Ullmark #35, Florida Panthers, Same Reinhart #13. (Photo by Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images)
Boston Bruins, Linus Ullmark #35, Florida Panthers, Same Reinhart #13. (Photo by Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images) /
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Florida Panthers, Matthew Tkachuk #19
Florida Panthers, Matthew Tkachuk #19. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images) /

Matthew Tkachuk vs Boston Defense

In his first season as a Florida Panther, Matthew Tkachuk set a new career high with 109 points, up five from last year’s 104 while with the Calgary Flames. His team-leading mark was 31 points better than any of his Panthers teammates, and he ranked tied for sixth league-wide.

Without question, Tkachuk has been one of the NHL’s most potent scorers in the last couple of seasons, so if the Cats are going to win this series, it will have to start with their 25-year-old star.

Boston, however, is not a team that is easily scored on. This matchup of one of the league’s top scorers and the league’s best defense should be fun to watch.

In the regular season, it was a matchup that directly correlated to each club’s head-to-head wins and losses. Tkachuk notched four points (one goal and three assists) in the Panthers’ two wins over the Bruins, while he managed only one assist in their two losses.

If Florida wants to advance to round two, Tkachuk is going to have to be at his best.

Special Teams

Special teams are always critical, whether it’s the regular season or the postseason, but with as dominant as the B’s have been all season long, the Panthers cannot afford to lose this battle.

Both teams had similar power plays, with Florida coming in at 10th in the NHL (22.8%) and Boston coming in at 12th (22.2%). However, the penalty killing situations looked significantly different. The Bruins had the league’s best PK (87.3%) while the Panthers were 23rd (76.0%).

If the Cats can’t improve upon their regular season numbers, this is an area that could propel the Bruins to a first-round victory. Conversely, this is an area in which the Panthers could draw even with their Atlantic Division rivals if they can find a way to come up big in special teams moments.