After making one of the biggest gaffes in recent Boston sports history, Boston Bruins goalie Linus Ullmark spoke to the media like he was in an episode of the hit Apple TV series ‘Ted Lasso.’
“You just have to have the mind of a goldfish,” the always even-keeled and upbeat Ullmark said with a smile.
For those who don’t watch the multi-Primetime Emmy Award-winning show, here’s what Ullmark is referring to:
Linus Ullmark and the Boston Bruins took that ‘Ted Lasso’-like approach to their 2022-23 regular season and became the winningest team in NHL regular season history. Ullmark became the first Boston Bruins goalie to win 40 games in a regular season since Pete Peters did so in the 1982-83 regular season going 40-6-1 with a 1.89 GAA and .938 save percentage. In the process, he became the odds-on NHL betting favorite to win the 2023 Vezina Trophy.
Ullmark’s ‘Ted Lasso,’ Jim Montgomery, became the NHL betting odds favorite to win the 2023 Jack Adams Award by winning the most games for a first-year Bruins head coach in franchise history.
Unfortunately, that even-keeled, at times, Lasso hunky-dory yet lovable positivity hasn’t worked as well for the top-seeded 2023 President’s Trophy winners in their first-round Stanley Cup Playoffs series with the eighth-seeded Florida Panthers. In a potential series-clinching Game 5 in front of a raucous, sold-out TD Garden, the Bruins suffered a 4-3 overtime loss that could go down in Bost0n sports playoff infamy if they do blow a 3-1 series lead and lose their first-round series to the heavy underdog Panthers.
So are Montgomery, Ullmark, and the Bruins going to veer away from the Ted Lasso approach they’ve consistently displayed in public after it played a major role in their record-breaking regular season success?
If their postgame reaction late Wednesday night were any indication, that would be a negative.
“Oh yeah, it’s gonna be great,” Ullmark said of the upcoming and unexpected Game 6. “This is what we play for. Some you win, some you lose.”
Ullmark then calmly and politely explained – not once, but twice – his mistake that led to the Panthers’ overtime winner by Bruins fans’ Public Enemy No.1, Matthew Tkachuk, 6:05 into the extra frame.
“I tried to get back in the net, and then he sent it in. You know, I tried to put myself in a position where he can’t bank it off me. Unfortunately, it hits my skate, and then it ends up in the wrong hands,” Ullmark said. “And from there it was kind of a situation where I couldn’t get back into position. And you know, he takes it by and puts it in.”
And one more time for a reporter late to his media scrum:
“OK, just went out there, tried to play it on the back and try to bypass [Carter Verhaeghe], and he makes a good read, takes it, hits it into the middle, hits my skate, goes to whoever it was [Tkachuk], makes a play and shoots it in the net,” Ullmark said. “That’s what happened.”
The always-accountable Ullmark then owned his mess as he always did after the few bad games he had this season.
“I don’t know. I have to look at it tonight or tomorrow and see what I could have done better,” Ullmark said on how he moves on and throws this game in the trash. “You know, maybe I should have rimmed it, maybe I should have went up the middle. It’s hard to say. I thought that was the best play. That’s it. And it ended up being, you know, the worst play. That happened, and we can all think about what I should have done or could have done. But also, maybe if I did that, maybe it would have been the same results. Who knows? This is the life of hockey and this is the game sometimes.”
Montgomery was even more blunt when asked about not just Ullmark’s mental lapse but the collective lulls in concentration that led to 17 turnovers and ultimately a trip back down to Sunrise, Florida for Game 6 on Friday night at 7:30 p.m. ET (NESN, TNT, CBC, SN, TVAS).
“Well, in Boston, there has been, that’s for sure,” Montgomery replied when asked about the intermittent brain cramps by his team. “For whatever reason, we didn’t start on time, they were the better team in the first period, and I thought right away, Charlie Coyle’s line with [Taylor] Hall and [Garnet] Hathaway got us going in the second and we started to build our game.
We tend to make big mistakes right now, I don’t know why, the last two games at home. We don’t manage our ice or manage the puck, it’s one of the two, and it ends up when you’re chasing the game like we did all night, one to zero, one to one, two to one, two to two, three to two, three to three, and then obviously you can’t chase the game anymore, you spend a lot of energy. I thought the energy that we spent in the second and the third trying to tie the game up. I didn’t think we were as sharp in overtime.”
Still, Montgomery isn’t about to reverse direction and become even blunter and sarcastic like his predecessor, Bruce Cassidy, or a coach like Darryl Sutter may have been in his situation.
This puck scribe has no issues with Montgomery’s because it wins. I also have no issues with Sutter and Cassidy. Both of those coaches are proven winners, and like many puck scribes, this one has no issues with their approaches because they’re pure quote gold!
However, some teams do take issue, and some coaches, like Montgomery, is with this Boston Bruins squad, or Ted Lasso with AFC Richmond, are just a unique and better fit.
“You know, we’ll regroup, we’ll meet tomorrow, and I’m sure we’re going to come back with a real good, determined effort,” a clearly unhappy Montgomery said I have a lot of confidence in our team, I have a lot of confidence in that group, from the first player through the 23rd, 24th player that’s with us right now.”
Montgomery will most likely make lineup and system adjustments like any good NHL head coach would on the verge of seeing a 3-1 series lead evaporate, but the Ted Lasso-like positive reinforcement won’t stop.