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    The first 82 are now a distant memory.

    The next goal for the Boston Bruins: 16 postseason victories.

    Jim Montgomery’s club secured their first-round matchup with the Toronto Maple Leafs following Tuesday’s 3-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators. Here’s what we learned from Boston’s regular-season finale.

    Another first-round matchup with the Maple Leafs awaits.

    The Bruins’ loss to Ottawa and the Panthers’ win over the Maple Leafs confirmed the latest playoff meeting between the two Original Six squads.

    Come Saturday night, the Bruins and Leafs will renew postseason acquaintances for the first time since 2019. Before that, they met in Round 1 in 2013 and 2018. All three meetings resulted in the Bruins winning in seven games.

    At some point, the Leafs are due to finally defeat the Bruins in a seven-game series. Over the last few years, they’ve established a top-tier core featuring Auston Matthews, William Nylander, Mitch Marner, John Tavares and Morgan Reilly. A productive supporting cast featuring former Bruin Tyler Bertuzzi, Matthew Knies and Max Domi (to name a few) provided timely secondary scoring of late, allowing the Leafs to post a productive plus-38 goal differential at 5v5.

    Yet, Toronto’s defense and goaltending remain a glaring concern. The Bruins chased their starter, Ilya Samsonov, after he fell asleep on Craig Smith’s winner in double overtime during Game 3 of their first-round series with Washington in 2021.

    Samsonov and the Leafs may have finally earned their first series win in nearly 20 years against Tampa a year ago. But until the Leafs significantly improve their back end, they’ll remain a team on the outside looking in of serious Cup contention.

    This transitional Bruins squad won’t take the Leafs lightly, even after sweeping the four regular-season matchups. After all, Toronto had Boston on the ropes only to fall short in three bitter Game 7 setbacks.

    Either way, the Bruins hope to showcase a similar urgency in the third, resulting in Pavel Zacha cutting Ottawa’s lead to 2-1 with a needed power-play tally. Otherwise, a flat outing similar to Monday’s tilt in Washington or the first 40 minutes from Tuesday will put them in an early hole.

    “Disappointed in it,” Montgomery said of Boston’s effort against Ottawa. “But I do like the fact that we got better every period, and the third period was a good brand of hockey. It’s something we can be confident about going into our preparation for the playoffs.”

    Jack Edwards calls his final regular season game.

    For 19 years, the Hub accustomed themselves accordingly to the voice of Jack Edwards. On Tuesday, the longtime NESN play-by-play occupant announced his retirement from the broadcast booth effective at the end of Boston’s postseason.

    “A congratulations to Jack Edwards on a tremendous career and personally disappointed that he’s retiring, but really happy for him,” Montgomery said. “He’s a Bruins icon and a big part of the Black and Gold tradition with what he’s done over a tremendous career.”

    At times, Edwards’ homerism and over-the-top commentary may have rubbed some fans, critics and even opposing players the wrong way. But his passion and love for his hometown team went unmatched, earning him plenty of praise from a well-informed Boston fanbase.

    Bruins fans echoed their respect ahead of puck drop as the organization honored Edwards with a gold stick and other gifts for his nearly two decades of service. After the tribute, Edwards stuck around to announce the winner of this year’s NESN’s 7th Player Award.

    Edwards, who opened up about his speech issues from the past few seasons to The Boston Globe‘s Chad Finn, will remain on the mic for Boston’s first-round series.

    Trent Frederic voted in as 7th Player Award recipient.

    The criteria for NESN’s 7th Player Award involves a fan vote for a Bruin who they feel performed above and beyond expectations.

    A handful of candidates fit that description during Boston’s centennial season. But Danton Heinen became the likely favorite to take home this year’s distinction after earning his roster spot as a training camp invitee and performing well in various roles on both wings throughout all four forward trios.

    Frederic also appeared on the shortlist of candidates. But overtaking Heinen came as a surprise to some.

    Still, Frederic fit the seventh-player mold, improving his shot selection and creating a solid net-front presence in Boston’s middle-six. After a breakout season last year, Frederic picked up where he left off, posting career highs in every offensive category (18 goals, 22 assists, 40 points) in 82 games played.

    “I just wanted to be better than I was last year and just wanted to keep improving my game,” Frederic said of the honor. “I think I worked on a lot of stuff this summer and just tried to get better every day.”

    The Bruins would love nothing more than to have Frederic’s motor running early against Toronto. The 2016 first-round selection saw his offensive production dry up over the final 10 games of the regular season, tallying a goal and an assist over that stretch.

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    Tim Rosenthal

    Tim Rosenthal serves as the Managing Editor of Bruins Daily. He started contributing videos to the site in 2010 before fully coming on board during the Bruins' Stanley Cup run in 2011. His bylines over the last decade have been featured on Boston.com, FoxSports.com, College Hockey News, Patch and Inside Hockey. You can follow Tim on Twitter @_TimRosenthal.


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