The Boston Bruins lost to the fastest and arguably the biggest blue line they’ve faced this season on Thursday night and suffered their first regulation loss at TD Garden this season 3-0 to the Seattle Kraken.
No one could blame them If Boston Bruins fans were left thinking the Bruins recent second round losses to the Tampa Bay Lightning (2020), and the New York Islanders (2021) in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Their team has been cranking out wins and points at a record pace, and their Stanley Cup chances haven’t been this real and good since the 2019 run to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final. However, given it’s his job to notice bad habits or trends creeping in, Boston Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery wasn’t that surprised that his team saw their home regulation win streak snapped by a team like the Seattle Kraken.
“I think we’ve seen it,” Jim Montgomery acknowledged Friday when asked if the warning signs were there as the Bruins somehow kept pulling off late comebacks at TD Garden to force extra time. “If we take away the west coast trip – I thought we got to our game – I thought the L.A. Kings were one of the better teams we’ve played. They play a really tight checking game and we found a way to get to the inside there compared to [Thursday]. So, for whatever reason we’ve been in a little bit of a malaise here at home, and pre and post holidays games. A little bit of it is the grind of a season; last night there’s no grind in the season. That was a really good team that we were excited to play and we didn’t match their intensity and work ethic.”
Ironically, the aforementioned run to Game 7 of the 2019 Stanley Cup was also abruptly stopped thanks a gargantuan St. Louis Blues blue line that wouldn’t allow the Bruins to get to the net and down low. That was how the Kraken beat the Bruins on Thursday, and Montgomery gave a blunt message to his players if they don’t want more Déjà vu against teams like the Kraken.
“You gotta refuse to be deterred,” Montgomery replied bluntly. “You have to go to hard areas; you gotta find ways to spin off people. They had four back all night long. Not dissimilar to what Vegas, and. …there’s somebody else that did it really well to us. …Winnipeg! You’re going to face that when you face good teams and the playoffs are going to be tight-checking. The easy ice is always on the outside, you gotta fight for the hard ice. You gotta fight for every foot of ice. A lot of coaches like to use the term ‘200-foot hockey player’, well if you want to be a good offensive hockey player, it’s that last ten feet in front of the blue paint that you gotta get to.”
The Boston Bruins will host another one of the five teams now that have beaten them in regulation on Saturday night when their Atlantic Division rivals, the Toronto Maple Leafs, come to TD Garden. As Montgomery pointed out, a big divisional game, and against another team that already beat them, could be just what the doctor ordered after Thursday’s loss to the Kraken.
“It’s an important game for both teams because they’ve lost two out of three and we’ve lost one,” Montgomery then said. “At home, we’ve gone overtime the other two prior games before we won. So, we need to get our game in order and tomorrow’s a good opportunity against one of the teams that – I’d say – Toronto, Carolina and ourselves – have probably been consistently the best so far this year. So it’s a good test for us.”
“I think everyone was disappointed,” Montgomery added later. “We’re not used to coming in here after we lost at home. I was talking to Brad Marchand about it, we were having breakfast together, and we were just talking about how there’s an empty feeling in your stomach because we haven’t had that, and that it kind of. …pisses ya off – excuse my language but I don’t have a better word for it – for what we’ve been used to, and it stings a little. You want to get that feeling back. Not only internally, but you can tell the whole city was rallying behind what we were doing. We want to get it back.”