When it comes to the National Hockey League playoffs, all bets are off. The regular season is behind us, and now we get to the serious business of a brand new season made of seven-game series. It doesn’t matter how lopsided the teams were in the regular season: If one team, one player, one goaltender gets hot, it’s lights out. Nothing encapsulates that more than what happened the night of Sunday, April 30, when we saw one of the biggest first round upsets in NHL history.

The 2022-23 Boston Bruins were the best regular season team in hockey history, boasting an inconceivable 65-12-5 record. They faced the last-seeded team in the Eastern Conference, the 42-32-8 Florida Panthers, who narrowly squeaked into the playoffs by a single point after dropping their final two games of the regular season. As the series progressed, it seemed to go the expected route. The Bruins led the series 3-1, capped off by a dominant 6-2 game four victory in Sunrise, Florida, and they needed just one more win to cruise into the next round of the tournament. The odds were stacked against them, but the Panthers had nothing to lose — a dangerous position for an opponent to be in in any sport. 

In Boston for game five, the Panthers celebrated a surprise 4-3 overtime victory to bring the series back home. Game six was a 12-goal thriller. It was 3-2 Florida entering the third period, and the Bruins came back from their third deficit and fourth tie to finally take a 5-4 lead with nine minutes, 38 seconds38 left. This was followed by three unanswered goals from the Panthers, giving the Flordians a 7-5 victory and forcing the all-important game seven. Finally in game seven, the visitors took a stunning 2-0 lead, silencing the Boston crowd. The Bruins saw this as a wake-up call, scoring three unanswered just as the Panthers had done in game six — capped off by a go-ahead goal from David Pastrnak, the league’s second-highest goalscorer with 61 this season. This lifted the roof off of TD Garden. However, with under a minute to go in regulation, defenseman Brandon Montour tied the game, sending it to overtime before center Carter Verhaeghe won it, eliminating the Bruins and shocking the hockey world.

The Panthers are a resilient bunch who fended off all the doubters. They were led by left-winger Matthew Tkachuk who was the star of the game on three separate occasions, and had 11 points in the series, with five goals and six assists. The two winning goal scorers in game seven, Montour and Verhaeghe, each had eight points during the series.

In the Eastern Conference semifinals, Florida will face the Toronto Maple Leafs, who just won their first playoff series since 2004. The Bruins go home empty handed yet again, now 13 years without a Stanley Cup, despite getting very close and being odds-on favorites on many occasions since then.

TD Garden is home to what was the number one team in both basketball and hockey respectively, but with the Bruins off of their pedestal, all eyes and pressure turn toward the Celtics to get the job done for the city of Boston— because we all know the Patriots and Red Sox don’t seem to be competing anytime soon.