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Bruins lose more than two games with loss of Hampus Lindholm

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I didn’t bother to predict the first round of the Stanley Cup this year. It seemed, at best, dishonest. It would have been like rolling dice in a roulette wheel and feeling too smart or too stupid no matter the outcome.

The 2021-22 regular season took the National Hockey League’s strength from half a dozen contenders, half a dozen downs and a huge midfielder to 50-50, the haves and the have-nots .

The NHL is now a 32-team league, but the wins it took to figure out the Eastern Conference playoff eight all-100-point teams for the first time in NHL history aren’t not come on the occasion of easy W against expansion teams. Due to border complications, the schedule has been balanced this season, more than the playoff structure should dictate.

For example, the Bruins have faced Montreal four times. Remember when it was eight times for all Adams Division rivals and that year when they faced the Whalers nine times?

This season, there have been no playoff stragglers. The Washington Capitals, bottom of the class with legitimate concern, won Game 1 of the Presidents Trophy Florida Panthers in their building in front of their raucous fans.

We still don’t know after a quarter century of ambivalence if South Florida cares about hockey, but it’s clear for the first time since 1996 that Greater Fort Lauderdale loves a winner. Fans not wearing Bruins or Rangers jerseys actually fill the arena that sits between the alligator-shaped mall and the Everglades.

I digress.

Despite their regular season ending, the Carolina Hurricanes have acted and played all season like a Stanley Cup contender, so it was no surprise to see them firing at full throttle earlier this week at Boston’s expense.

Once the Bruins’ high-energy starts faded a bit, the Canes showed the pulse, the skill and the carpe diem to pounce and not only win games, but outperform the Bruins in every aspect.

Power forward Andrei Svechnikov’s demolition of Boston’s new favorite prop, Hampus Lindholm, reminds us that the road to the Stanley Cup is often a rough one.

There are three injuries the Bruins can’t absorb and win 16 playoff games: Patrice Bergeron, Charlie McAvoy and Lindholm.

The 6-foot-2 Swedish defenseman is the most crucial acquisition in Don Sweeney’s seven years as general manager, if for no other reason than the Bruins can now defend the left side of the ice against the world’s Svechnikovs and do it in the playoffs.

That ability is no longer there without Lindholm, who will almost certainly miss Games 3 and 4 at TD Garden. He’s probably out for the show if not the season.

The Bruins will now have to put together their best game in hopes of holding serve and sending the series back to Raleigh, North Carolina, tied at two games apiece.

For a Boston team that has won 50 games, that seems like a reasonable hope, but breaking it down into smaller pictures like Claude Julien did, can Brad Marchand, Taylor Hall or David Pastrnak, the wing-based core of the game. pulverized attack of the Bruins. , suddenly summon their best against this formidable opponent?

Jeremy Swayman, whose best seems to have been months ago, can he be the future now?

The Bruins suddenly look like the team full of the same questions they had before coach Bruce Cassidy originally changed his offensive lines and the Bruins took over.

Jake DeBrusk and Eric Haula seem ineffective, and there is no Hampus Lindholm in charge in this critical quarter of the rink.

In the meantime, the Hurricanes look like the team you love to hate.

Their situation should be dire in goal, but Carolina is playing with the confidence a team gets from a perennial Vezina Trophy winner, and they won Game 2 with their fourth goaltender. The only Rask to have an impact on this series is Viktor, whose goal slipped another quick start for the Bruins with nothing to show for it.

The Hurricanes just injured one of the Bruins’ essential cogs. They jostle and make fun of Bergeron.

One hundred points and 50 wins will mean nothing if it ends the way it started.

Mick Colageo writes about hockey for The Standard-Times. Follow on Twitter @MickColageo.