The Bruins sniper scored 61 goals this season, second in the NHL only to Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers. Further, he notched one goal in each of Boston’s regular season meetings with Florida.
I’ll make a similar argument here to the one that I made earlier when speaking about Matthew Tkachuk. Pastrnak’s ability to produce at a level similar to the one at which he produced in the regular season will be key to determining this series.
The difference here is that there is not an elite defense opposing him. Whether or not Pastrnak is able to have an explosive first-round series will be determined exclusively by him. Given his two hat tricks in the month of April, I see no reason to think he’ll slow down in this series.
Presidents’ Trophy Curse?
NHL fans know all about the curse that comes with being the best team in the regular season. The last time a team won both the Presidents’ Trophy and the Stanley Cup was in 2013 when the Chicago Blackhawks did it in a shortened season.
Last year, that curse fell on the shoulders of the Panthers who won in round one before being swept out of the postseason in round two. This year, the burden of overcoming the curse falls on the record-setting Bruins.
So, this point is two-fold. The most obvious part is that Boston will be dealing with more pressure than any other team in these playoffs. Can the B’s do what hasn’t been done in a decade and win a championship in spite of having won the Presidents’ Trophy?
For the Panthers, can sneaking into the playoffs and drawing a David versus Goliath-type first-round matchup actually be a good thing? It wouldn’t be the first time that a step back in the regular season has led to more playoff success (looking at you, 2018 Washington Capitals), so maybe this is a blessing in disguise.
It’s also worth noting that the last time we saw a historic regular season was in 2019 when the Tampa Bay Lightning dominated for 82 games just to be swept by the Columbus Blue Jackets. Surely, the Bruins won’t meet the same fate, right?