NHL

Bruins fans, media wrong on coaching change

Bruins fans, media wrong on coaching change

Bruins fans, media wrong on coaching change

SUNRISE, FL – It’s time for Boston Bruins fans to admit that they got it completely wrong this summer.

There was a near-universal firestorm of Bruins management a few months ago when the decision was made to make a stunning change to the head coaching position, leaving successful head coach Bruce Cassidy without a chosen successor in hand and ready to go.

The media was also pretty well aligned in their frothing criticism of the Bruins, with some far more intent on haranguing the Black and Gold than others.

Full disclosure: Boston hockey now They also had their doubts about firing based more on the team’s performance than the players who had disabled Cassidy.

Combined with the early season absences of Brad Marchand and Charlie McAvoy, the expectation bar for the Boston Bruins was lowered significantly with the feeling that they were regressing regardless of who was at the helm.

Well, everyone who talked about the conventional wisdom was wrong and the Boston Bruins were right to fire Bruce Cassidy and bring in Jim Montgomery to coach this B’s group. It’s undeniably obvious in the performance on the ice , as the Bruins have raced to a 17-2-0 start to the season while setting franchise records, and it’s just as clear in the way the system, atmosphere and culture fit has enabled it. many players have thrived over the past few months.

Some of them are X’s and O’s like using the weakside defenseman more to get the puck out of the defensive zone, or having an overall philosophy of quality over quantity with shots on net from the forwards.

“I think we have 8 forwards in the first three lines that we will combine throughout the year. Charlie Coyle, you’ve seen me use him on the right wing and as a second-line center at times to close out games especially,” Montgomery said. “I think it’s reps over reps we feel comfortable hanging on the puck in the O-zone game. The movement that goes with it and trusting that the other four guys’ job is to get open for the puck guy, and the puck guy’s job is to make good decisions with him.

“So changes happen. The person I’m going to hold accountable is the person with the puck because we always have to know where our outs are and know where our options are, other than throwing the puck to the net” .

This is well documented Nick Foligno he grew irritated with Cassidy’s mercilessly critical style last season when it came to challenging players and often yelling at them, and it showed in his performance on the ice. Part of that was Foligno battling through injuries to finish with two goals in 64 games, but it seems even more was the simple need for a coaching change.

Right now, Foligno is on pace for 17 goals and 47 points this season and has been a critical piece as a net presence and locker room guy who consistently makes good plays on the ice. It was Foligno’s power play goal in front of the net with a rebound marker in Monday night’s game against the Lightning that snapped the B’s out of their first period funk and sparked a second period explosion that eventually led them to victory.

That it came after Foligno had gotten three or four stitches after being hit on the chin with a puck earlier that morning only added to it.

“It’s unreal. He’s another guy who’s been a captain in this league for a long time and you can see why,” Montgomery said. “He’s very dedicated to the team, and he enjoys his role where he really helps on the power play, helps us 5-on-5 and helps our offense and our possession game. It’s nice to be rewarded.” .

But it’s not just Foligno.

Check out how Connor Clifton has played in the first few months. Many pointed to Brandon Carlo as a player who could really blossom with the coaching change, but it’s been Clifton who has reached his potential with a coaching staff that encourages him to take calculated risks, play his game and be a player that will affect the game physically and on the offensive end at times.

The fact that Clifton is playing so well this season after going through some emotional lows last season should let you know that the change of coach has done wonders for his game.

And Jake DeBrusk has been consistently strong this season for the Boston Bruins as well after being the most obvious player to endure trouble from Cassidy after requesting a trade midway through last season. DeBrusk is truly poised for the first 30-goal season of his career and has largely played with the type of speed, second effort and all-around game that has been missing in recent years.

The Boston Bruins are excited about the tweaks to the system they are playing and how it accounts for being the only team in the NHL still averaging more than four goals per season. What they don’t say is that it works much better than what they were doing last season.

“I think what’s so great about (head coach Jim Montgomery’s) system is that it’s so fast but predictable, and I think we really enjoy playing it,” Foligno said last week when trying to explain why the Bruins’ offense has taken it. a notch this season. “I think it fits a lot of guys in the room, and I think we feel like when we play, we know where guys are supposed to be.

“You can have that sixth sense. It’s dangerous because we’re playing with a lot of speed, too. And so when those guys are in the right spots, it makes it very difficult for other teams, and I think you’re seeing that right now.” .

Some even wonder if David Krejci’s return is related to the head coaching change, though the playmaking center has denied that, although he has been a huge difference maker this season as No. 2 center for the Boston Bruins.

One obvious area where the Boston Bruins are very different this season?

In recent years, the conversation and focus always seemed to be on the Perfection Line, the power play and Boston’s best players, while other supporting players struggled to produce secondary offense and scoring diversity.

There have been 19 different Boston Bruins scorers this season leading up to Thanksgiving, and there has been a clear cultural focus that the whole team is greater than the sum of its parts. The B’s fourth line received the starting assignment in each of the first two regular season games this season, when it was usually a logical conclusion that the Boston Bruins were starting the Perfection Line for the past few seasons.

Stay-at-home shooting guard Derek Forbort was highlighted during the first few days of training camp as a standout player, a look at what Boston’s unheralded players bring to the table. Boston. All of this seemed to be designed by Montgomery for a hockey team he knew had his head in the right place.

“We have great leaders. It’s that simple,” Boston Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery said. “It’s a luxury not to have to go and warn the team about ‘let’s not get caught and read our press clippings.’ Bergeron, Marchand, Pastrnak, Krejci, McAvoy…it goes on and on, Foligno. There’s an army of leaders and obviously I’ve said this before: we have the best captain in all of sports [in Patrice Bergeron].”

In recent seasons, the Bruins could go weeks without using the 13th forward or 7th defenses, as those backup players could build up rust in the press box watching games and waiting for injuries to open up a spot.

This season, those types of backup players won’t go more than a week or two without breaking into the lineup, as it’s been a clear point of emphasis to keep everyone involved in the team concept.

Some of these things may seem minor or insignificant, but they are very important in building a proper and successful hockey team where everyone is at their best and contributing to the greater good. All of these subtle things have greatly improved a Boston Bruins team that won 51 games last season and is now viewed as one of the best teams in the NHL. Boston Bruins fans wondered who could succeed the fired Claude Julien six years ago when he was raided, and Bruce Cassidy proved to be the right man at the right time.

Now Montgomery has done the same in a situation where Bruins fans couldn’t imagine anyone being a better option than Cassidy. Boston Bruins management isn’t hitting 1,000 as the Mitchell Miller debacle of the past few weeks would prove, but credit is due.

The Boston Bruins nailed the hiring of Jim Montgomery as their new head coach this summer, and everyone owes them a massive mea culpa, even if the message will never get through to the B’s front office.





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