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Bruins-Panthers Game 6: Three keys to victory with B’s season on the line

Bruins-Panthers Game 6: Three keys to victory with B’s season on the line originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The Boston Bruins are still alive in the second round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs, but to force a Game 7 on Sunday, they must protect home ice against the Florida Panthers in Game 6 on Friday night.

That turns out to be quite a challenge for the B’s. They have lost five straight home playoff games against the Panthers dating back to last season, including Games 3 and 4 of this series.

The Bruins have a minus-8 goal differential (16 goals for, 24 against) in their last six postseason games against the Panthers at TD Garden.

If this trend doesn’t reverse in Game 6, the Bruins’ season is over.

Here are three keys to victory for the Bruins

Swayman should deliver another great performance

The Bruins have scored two or fewer goals in seven of their last eight games. Therefore, Swayman’s margin for error was incredibly small. Fortunately for the Bruins, he has consistently risen to the occasion.

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The 25-year-old netminder has been the best player at his position throughout the playoffs. He leads all goaltenders with a .933 save percentage and 10.75 goals above expectations, per Natural Stat Trick.

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Swayman’s amazing save in the final seconds of Game 5 extended the Bruins’ season.

Unless the Bruins find a way to produce more 5-on-5 offense and/or fix their power play issues, Swayman will have to be brilliant again for the Original Six club to extend its season further.

He’s given up two or fewer goals in eight of his 11 starts this postseason, so there’s good reason to believe he’ll give the team a shot on Friday night.

Win the special teams battle

The Bruins fell 25 short against the Panthers, the most of any team in the second round. They gave the Panthers six power plays in Game 2, Game 3 and Game 4. Even though the referee was a little suspect at times in this series, the Bruins still need to be much more disciplined and not give a dangerous Panthers power play either. many possibilities.

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After allowing six power-play goals in the previous three games, the Bruins penalty went up in Game 5 with a perfect 4-for-4 performance. This unit blocked shots, won puck battles and did a good job of getting sticks into passing lanes. Swayman was also very good, making five saves on five shots on the penalty kill.

The Bruins need a similar performance from their PK in Game 6.

Figuring out the power play would also be a huge help for the Bruins. They have one power-play goal — a David Pastrnak score in Game 4 — in 14 attempts against the Panthers, giving them a 7.1 percent success rate, which is worst among the six teams still alive in Round 2 .

The key for the Bruins with the man advantage is to get as many pucks on net as possible. Bobrovsky has an .896 save percentage in the series and has had trouble locating pucks and controlling rebounds. If the Bruins can get pucks through traffic, they have guys who can clean up the mess around the crease and score some big goals. Overpassing and trying to set up the perfect play is not the best strategy against this opponent.

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Maintain the intensity for 60 minutes

The Bruins have started the last two games pretty well. Despite being outshot early in Game 4, the B’s took a 2-0 lead into the first intermission. They played even better in the first period of Game 5, leading 13-4 and leading 1-0 after the first 20 minutes.

The second and third periods were a problem for the Bruins in this series. The Panthers have outscored them 16-8 in five games after the first period. Since Game 1, the Panthers have a goal differential of 15-3 after the first period.

The Bruins had three breakaways in the second period of Game 4 and failed to capitalize on them. Jake DeBrusk, Trent Frederic, Morgan Geekie and David Pastrnak all had A-scoring chances in Game 5 and none converted.

The Panthers had the seventh-best winning percentage (.368) when trailing after the first period during the regular season. In the playoffs they are 2-1-0. Florida is built to erase almost any deficit with its high-powered offense, mobile defenders and a goaltender in Sergei Bobrovsky who ranks third in high-danger save percentage this postseason.

The Bruins can’t take their foot off the gas pedal or the Panthers will make them pay.

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