December 11, 2023

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Linus Ullmark failed the Bruins, and the Bruins failed Ullmark

SUNRISE, FL — “I feel good,” Linus Allmark answered when asked how he felt physically after losing 7-5 in Game 6. “Thanks.”

“Yeah,” Allmark said after a few moments when asked if he was feeling refreshed given his postseason workload. “No problems there, I’d say.”

Both the eye test and the results sheet will say otherwise. The Allmark Reservoir appears empty. Six goals against confirming that observation. According to Moneypuck, the Panthers were expected to score 3.72 goals in all situations on Ullmark.

Not once during the regular season did the Vezina Trophy favorite not allow more than six pucks. Allmark, however, had not started even once in six consecutive games prior to the first round.

Game 6 old 2021-22 Allmark was in his first mediocre months after arriving from Buffalo. Follow-ups everywhere. Doesn’t save good time. Loose change scattered in dangerous areas. Twice in the third period, after the Bruins pulled ahead, Allmark could not stand tall against the Panthers’ rush.

All year long, Allmark made saves at the right time. But all year long, the Bruins had paced his workload to put him in a position to make game-saving stops.

Ullmark’s save percentage is now .896. Otherwise known as not good enough.

“You didn’t lock the door today, unfortunately,” said Allmark. “I felt good the whole game. I didn’t really feel like it got to me or anything like that. Just a few good shots. Unfortunately, I couldn’t save that extra today.”

Coach Jim Montgomery admitted he considered tying Allmark during Game 6. He did not specify when. As for whether Jeremy Swaiman will start Game 7, Montgomery didn’t have a pass.

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“We’re going to be consistent,” Montgomery said. “We’re going to review the game. We’re going to analyze everyone who played. If we think there should be a change, we’ll make a change.”

At this point, a switch seems unlikely. It will put Swaiman in a tough spot to win the most important start of his life.

The Bruins have made their own goal-oriented bed. Montgomery and goaltending coach Bob Esensa, with assurance from management, decided that Allmark was their man. Now they must live with the consequences of their rudimentary thinking of riding a single goaltender into the postseason when rotating two sharp net-setters was the formula for the regular season.

It might be their downfall.

As poorly as Allmark performed, the fatigued first baseman did not have much support from the defensemen. Montgomery put Connor Clifton in Matt Grzelecik’s place on Friday after the right-handed defender made a healthy scratch for the previous three games.

This step was disastrous.

In the first period, less than four minutes after Tyler Bertuzzi tied the game at 1-1, Clifton ended the Bruins’ momentum by receiving a penalty. Bruins killed Clifton offense.

But then Clifton threw a pass in the gut from Dmitry Orlov’s reach into Nick Cousins’ stick. The Panthers went the other way in a two-on-one rush. Allmark got a cushion in the Cousins ​​shot. But Matthew Tkachuk hit a rebound to give the Panthers a 2-1 lead.

After David Pasternak’s second goal gave the Bruins a 4-3 lead in the third period, Clifton and Derek Voorport went below the goal line in pursuit of Eto Lostarinen. With both men mired in the downs, there was no one in the slot to cover Zac Dalpe when Luostarinen hit him up front for a one-timer from close range.

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Clifton put an exclamation mark on his terrible night. With no heat in sight, Clifton headed in an indirect pass from the left boards that Brandon Montour kept in the area. Moments later, Luostarinen picked up the winner on blocker Ullmark.

“It was the kind of game where the teams were playing great offense,” Montgomery said. “We have to clean up a few things. We didn’t protect the hatch like we normally do. They’ve got a minimum of three targets out of there that I can think of. And I’m talking five out of five.”

Clifton had company when it came to streaking blue boo-boos. Tkachuk scored on the power play to even the game at 5-5 because Hampus Lindholm, under zero pressure, raised a bonus to the FLA Live Arena crowd for a penalty delay. Ollmark stopped Tkachuk’s first shot. But the right wing scored on the rebound.

“They were fielding really good pucks tonight,” said Jake Debrusek. “Whether it’s low to high, I thought they were getting in there with a lot of dead bodies. Two in. The stuff every team talks about. You do it enough, eventually you get a payoff.”

The Bruins did not get any assists in the second period. They were shaved after the dazzling Pastrnak was tied between the legs. They thought they had pulled ahead after Brandon Carlow’s point shot went in to make the game 3-2.

But the Panthers’ sharp-eyed video crew noticed an infraction. Before Carlo’s goal, Jake Debrusek, while on the ice, threw the puck with his left hand. A coach’s challenge confirmed DeBrusk’s connection, resulting in a handball pass to deflect the green goal. Alexander Barkov responded with a backhand goal. Allmark was out of his way chasing Anthony Duclair.

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“I was just trying to get up,” Debrusek said. “I wasn’t intentionally trying to overdo it. Otherwise, I would have gotten more wood on it.”

The Bruins missed a lot in Game 6, starting with Pastrnak’s pitch. DeBrusk drowned a crucial short-handed field goal in the third. David Krejci played for the first time since Game Two. The Bruins were at full health for the first time in this series.

Now they are one loss away from missing a historic regular season.

(Photo: Jim Rasul/USA Today)