Time For Jim Montgomery To Lead Bruins To Critical Victory

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Boston Bruins Head Coach Jim Montgomery was hired in the off-season to be a stark contrast to previous coach Bruce Cassidy. Montgomery is viewed as an overly positive players’ coach who brings that energy daily. Cassidy was a tell-it-like-it-is, no-nonsense head guy who told his players and the media what was missing on a nightly basis. The players grew tired of Cassidy and responded to Montgomery’s style by winning a record 65 regular season games this season. The coaching change worked beautifully, and the Bruins headed to the postseason as a heavy favorite to win their second Stanley Cup in 12 years.

The opening-round matchup with Florida has proven to be a difficult challenge. The Panthers would not go away after trailing the series three games to one. And now, with the series heading back to Boston Sunday tied at three games apiece, coaching has again made its way to the forefront. Montgomery has said through much of the season that the leadership of the team, spearheaded by captain Patrice Bergeron makes it easy to coach this club. The Bruins have shown resiliency all season. But now the team will need its coach to pull the right strings in Game 7 to avoid a historic letdown.

Montgomery’s personnel decisions have been questioned throughout the series, highlighted by having Linus Ullmark play all six games in net. The Vezina Trophy favorite has been battling a nagging injury and was reported to have an illness at the beginning of the series. The debate began about whether the Bruins should use a platoon at goaltender as Jeremy Swayman had a terrific season as the backup and was the Bruins’ netminder midway through the first-round series last postseason when Ullmark faltered. Ullmark seemed to settle in with victories in games 3 and 4 but allowed four goals, turned the puck over to help Florida win the game in overtime in Game 5, and surrendered five goals in Game 6. A decision on the Game 7 goaltender is again up for debate.

The Bruins coach also replaced defenseman Matt Grzelcyk with Connor Clifton in Game 6, which backfired severely. Clifton was a minus-3 in the game, commuted a penalty, and committed an unforced turnover that led to a goal. The pairing of Clifton with Derek Forbort struggled to manage the puck all game. Grzelcyk has the second-best plus-minus in the NHL this season but has struggled in his playoff career. However, the Charlestown, Massachusetts native has played well in three postseason games with zero giveaways. His omission from the lineup Friday night was a head-scratcher.

Montgomery also switched the lines in Game 5 with a chance to clinch the series. He would soon change the lines back, but not after the Bruins began chasing the game all night, coming back three times from one-goal deficits. Eventually, the Bruins would lose 4-3 in overtime and give the momentum back to the Panthers.

After Game 6, Montgomery was his typical positive self, saying that game was “unbelievable, wow.” During a bench interview, Montgomery said that “it is hard to eliminate a team.” The demeanor of the coach is almost one of “just happy to be here” rather than being analytical and critical of his team’s performance. This leads to a Game 7 where the Bruins coach will have to prove his worth beyond his contrasting personality from the previous coach. Will Montgomery select the right lineup, goaltender, and adjustments to avoid an epic disappointment? Or will Bruins fans face their greatest letdown and question what’s next for the Boston Bruins?

Season 2. Episode 37. It’s Going To Be A Long Off-Season Bruins Benders Podcast

The Bruins off-season will be longer than expected. We like some CHL rules changes. The Bruins defense needs to be nastier, not just bigger. Can this core going forward win a Cup? Plus Beauties and Benders and Rod Brind’Amour whines. 
  1. Season 2. Episode 37. It’s Going To Be A Long Off-Season
  2. Season 2. Episode 36. Time For Recovery.
  3. Season 2. Episode 35. Season Ending Game 7 Recap.
  4. Season 2. Episode 34. Game 6 Recap.
  5. Season 2. Episode 33. Game 5 Recap.

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