NHL

Bruins are running Jim Montgomery’s system to perfection: ‘It’s so fast but predictable’

Bruins are running Jim Montgomery’s system to perfection: ‘It’s so fast but predictable’

BOSTON β€” In the second period on Thursday, com Connor Clifton started the Bruins’ from behind their net, the defender’s four teammates knew exactly what to do.

Thomas Nosek placed in the strong side wall to serve as the main exit from Clifton. Pavel Zacha stayed wide on the weak side. Nick Foligno blasted the area to back up flyers. Hampus Lindholm drifted into the middle of the ice. So when Nosek caught Clifton’s pass, everyone was in the perfect spot to execute one of coach Jim Montgomery’s plays. signature works: the exit from the defensive zone using the weak side defense.

“The space, and we’re looking for it,” Montgomery said of why the Bruins have run the play well and often. “Space is important. It’s important for the winger to shoot out. That gives him more space to find the weak side D. It’s also the other two forwards who leave space and push people with them.

He’s become the Bruins’ not-so-secret weapon. The play has started a transition game that was too often stuck in the park last season. But with everyone following the script, the pieces fell together perfectly and on time.

“It’s something you anticipate from the weak D side, that it’s going to be there,” Nosek said. β€œThe work developed as we set it up. It was a bit of a plan.”

As Lindholm received the pass in the middle of the defensive zone, all sorts of options opened up for the defender. He chose to bring it through the Philadelphia pre-check. The Flyers did not put up a stiff resistance. Lindholm passed two weak stick checks Scott Laughton i Kevin Hayes to win the offensive blue line and unleash a three-on-two attack.

After receiving a pass from Zacha, Foligno made the weight. A fake shot taken Carter Hart out of position Foligno spun around the net and fired the puck in front. Nosek did the rest, giving the Bruins a 1-0 lead.

“I think that’s what’s so great about Monty’s system,” Foligno said. “He’s very fast but predictable. We really enjoy playing him. I think he’s tailor-made for a lot of guys in the room. We think when we play, we know where guys are supposed to be. You can have that sixth sense . It’s dangerous, because we’re also playing with a lot of speed. With those guys in the right spots, it makes it very difficult for other teams. You’re seeing that right now. Positioning, but also where the puck is going to go. We know where our routes are going to be in the breaks. We know our background check. There are little rules. It’s not written in stone.”

Two for Krejci

David Krejci entered the night with just one assist in his last five games. Before that, he missed three games with an upper-body injury.

The No. 2 center may be close to regaining his touch.

Sixteen seconds after the Flyers made it a 2-1 game, Krejci punched back to end Philadelphia’s rally. After a tough forecheck by Zacha led to a turnover, Krejci settled the puck and calmly put a shot past Hart to give the Bruins a 3-1 lead. Krejci followed with a power play goal.

“I thought he was really on,” Montgomery said. “Everything looked great. He looked faster. He was stronger on pucks. He was holding on to pucks. He was skating away from people. You could tell he was on his game by how quickly he was closing on people from the D zone. I thought he was a great 200-footer tonight.”

Krejci had not scored a goal since October 18 against Ottawa.

“I know if I’m on top of my game, I can help the team offensively and put some points on the board,” Krejci said. “But that’s secondary. First and foremost, I want to keep getting better and doing the right things. When I feel better, good things happen.”

Ullmark still crossing

Linus Ullmark made his eighth start in the last nine games. The only respite came when Keith Kinkaid earned his first win against the Bruins buffalo on November 12.

Fatigue doesn’t seem to be a problem.

Ullmark stopped 22 of 23 shots. The only record he couldn’t go back was Owen Tippettthe power play snapper, aided by the net presence of Noah Cates.

“I felt great,” Ullmark said. “That’s why we work out in the summer. We had a little bit more of a summer after we beat them in the first round. There were a lot of emotions that you wanted to get back right away. You had a bit of a carrot in front of you all the time . I also owe a lot to the guys I work with in the summer.”

(Photo: Winslow Townson / USA Today)





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