With his team in some sort of ordeal at five to five, Bruins coach Jim Montgomery uses its nuclear option.
Montgomery opened Sunday’s game against the Canucks David Pastrnak ride with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchandholding together a line that was connected for a hand-eye special in Saturday’s win in Buffalo.
With the clock running out in less than two minutes and the Sabers chasing the equalizer, Bergeron kicked his racquet in the neutral zone for a turnover. He smacked the puck forward a few yards to Pastrnak, who scooped it up in midair, spun and supplied Marchand in traffic. A quick court for Bergeron, an even quicker one-timer, and the Bruins had their 13th win in 15 games.
That blitz, Montgomery hoped, would keep the league’s highest scoring team (3.93 goals per game on Sunday) at the top of the pile. The Bruins went into the game with six equal goals in at least four games. Montgomery loves what anchors his fourth line Nick Foligno and Thomas Nasekhas given him, but he doesn’t want to rely on them to create scoring chances.
Set the resulting shift Jake DeBrusk on the second line, with David Krejci and Taylor Hall. Montgomery wanted “speed, puck possession, offensive and endplay moves” from this trio. He believed DeBrusk had established himself as a consistent top-six winger with five goals and six assists in his first 15 games.
“If he’s in top form and he’s winning battles, he’s into pucks and he’s using his speed to get people on their heels, I don’t think it matters who Jake is playing with,” Montgomery said. “He’ll insult every line.”
Montgomery watched Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak from a distance at previous stops in Dallas and St. Louis. He would rather plan with them than against them.
“They just dominate at both ends of the ice,” he said. “You get three players like that together – like last night’s piece, that was quite a special piece.”
Make it forward
A shorthanded goal against Saturday in Buffalo didn’t stop Montgomery from keeping his five-forward power-play unit together.
Last Monday against St. Louis — when Montgomery played Krejci for the first time with Marchand, Bergeron, Pastrnak and DeBrusk — Marchand scored the winning goal on the power play. The unit went 2 for 2.
That was followed by the five forward power play with a 0-5 performance against the Flames and a 1-3 in Buffalo Craig Anderson. Bergeron’s first game was the equalizer in the Bruins’ 3-1 win in a hole because Days Thompson undressed Krejci in a short rush before pinning it over Keith Kinkaid.
“It’s working right now,” Montgomery said of the five-forward unit. “They call it feast or famine, right? But we have four power play goals in (13) attempts. Those are pretty good numbers.”
Greer on the fourth line for Smith
AJ Greer moved in on the fourth line, replacing fighting CraigSmith. The latter, who is 1-2-3 for the season, was scratched for the sixth time in 16 games. Greer (3-3-6) played for the first time after three straight DNPs… Jack Studnicka was the No. 4 right wing for the Canucks. 23-year-old Studnicka joined Vancouver as a goalkeeper on October 27 Michael DiPietro and defensive perspective Jonathan Myrenberg, appeared in his seventh game with his new club (1-1-2). He scored the winning goal on November 8 in Ottawa… The Bruins surprised the crowd as they came out for the warm-up in their white ‘Pooh 2.0’ alternate jerseys. The Canucks wore their traditional street white. NHL rules state that teams must wear contrasting light and dark uniforms, with the home team having the final say. The Bruins, who were not supposed to wear their white “reverse retro” attire according to the uniform plan they released last month, switched to their traditional black home uniforms for the puck drop.