In his daily media session on Saturday, Boston Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery made it clear that as far as he’s concerned, if there’s ever going to be another player equal to or better than Bruins legend Bobby Orr, it’s Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar.
“No, it’s not,” Jim Montgomery immediately replied when asked if it’s ‘an exaggeration to compare the 2022 Norris and Conn Smythe trophy winner to Orr. “Bobby Orr is in a stratosphere by himself but if there’s anyone that’s ever going to come into that stratosphere, it’s going to be him.”
That may sound taboo to older Boston Bruins fans but not to anyone who has watched the former UMass-Amherst star and 2019 Hobey Baker Award winner closely since he took the NHL by storm in the 2019-2020 season and won the Calder Trophy with 12 goals and 38 assists in 57 games during his rookie season. Since then, Makar has racked up 42 goals and 111 assists in 142 games. He won the Norris Trophy last season with an astonishing 28 goals and 58 assists in 77 games last season, and then followed that up with eight goals and 21 assists in 20 playoff games to lead the Colorado Avalanche to the 2022 Stanley Cup and win the 2022 Conn Smythe trophy.
So how to the Bruins defend against such a unique and generational talent like Makar?
“By studying him and being aware of. …you talk about a player that’s blessed with everything, he has compete, anticipation, hockey sense. He’s blessed with great feet, he’s blessed with being able to manipulate the puck with his hands, and then he can make finishing plays.
So, you’re not going to deter him physically. So you gotta make sure that a.) if you’re late, you’re staying above him. That you’re angling him – and you talk about stick on puck – steering him to areas where he can’t beat you because if you try and go too hard at him when he has the puck, he is going to beat you. It’s a matter of how; it’s not a matter of if you’re going to stop him and make a big hit. I’ve never seen him take a big hit in the league yet and it’s because he has power and he has skating and he knows how to manipulate the feet.”