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'Game management' dooms B's vs. Canes

January 25, 2024, 9:06 PM ET [15 Comments]
Ty Anderson
Boston Bruins Blogger •Bruins Feature Columnist • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery tends to bite his tongue.

That’s not a critique as much as it’s his own and natural preference to keep his harshest and most direct criticism behind closed doors and not in front of working microphones and running recording devices.

But when Montgomery took to the podium following Wednesday’s 3-2 loss to the Hurricanes — and did so before the TD Garden elevators had shuttled the full media contingent down to the press conference room — it was clear that Montgomery was not rushing to simply ensure that the Bruins made good timing for their postgame flight up to Ottawa.

Montgomery was none too pleased with what he had just seen.

“I thought we had great desperation and second, third effort, but the game management at the end of the game was not good,” Montgomery offered. “That’s what cost us the game.”

To be more direct, it was the ill-timed, offensive-zone activation attempt from Hampus Lindholm that truly seemed to irk the second-year Boston bench boss.

“The defensemen should not be pinching in,” a clearly bothered Montgomery said. “It’s 2-2 [and] there was a shot on net [by the Bruins]. We have to make sure we keep people in front of us.

“Then they ended up with what looked like a 2-on-1 that became a breakaway.”

The breakaway from Jordan Martinook came with a double-whammy of sorts, too, at least from a frustration point of view. Boston’s Linus Ullmark (30 saves in a losing effort) made the initial stop, but couldn’t stop the shot from dribbling behind him and into the Boston cage for the go-ahead goal with 2:27 left in the game.
The breakdown by all means negated what was an otherwise impressive third-period comeback from the Black and Gold, as the Bruins erased a two-goal deficit with a pair of tallies from Brad Marchand, and were just 147 seconds away from having at least one point banked away. An improbable point at that.

“You gotta know that you’ve done a great job [and that] we’ve tied it up 2-2,” Montgomery acknowledged. “We don’t need to force anything, you know? Points are valuable. And it’s a good lesson for us moving into the playoffs. Like, yeah, momentum’s on our side. It’s 2-2. The crowd’s into it [and] the Garden’s buzzing.

“But we can’t lose our positioning and give up a breakaway.”

And not only was the timing of the pinch bad, but its execution was almost worse.

As David Pastrnak’s shot was turned aside, Lindholm came breezing on in and had a one-handed grip with his stick is his right hand. It was a rather purposeless activation, all things considered. Even if the puck hits his blade, from his angle with his stick placement, that puck’s not doing much of anything. And given the way that the Hurricanes play defensively — with aggressive, active sticks that bat everything out of danger — the odds of that activation putting the Bruins in no man’s land all the same seems pretty high.

But rather than continue to lament the misplay of one player, Montgomery decided to put some of the onus on himself, saying that Wednesday showed him that he needs to be a better job of ‘teaching’ his players. His exact quote, in fact, was that he’s “not teaching well enough."

The good news for Montgomery and the Bruins is that he will get a crack at some on-the-job teaching Thursday night, as the Bruins will have a quick turnaround (and a strong bounce-back chance) with a road showdown against the basement-dwelling Ottawa Senators (18-24-1).
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