BOSTON – Boston Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery voiced regret about several choices made during their first-round playoff series against the Florida Panthers that ultimately didn’t go their way in seven games.
Going away from the goalie rotation, mixing up the forward lines in Game 5 and not adjusting the defense pairs were high on the list of second guesses that Montgomery took accountability for as the Boston Bruins head coach, general manager Don Sweeney, President Cam Neely and CEO Charlie Jacobs addressed the media at TD Garden on Tuesday afternoon.
One thing Montgomery didn’t regret: Inserting an injured Patrice Bergeron back into the series in Game 5 when things really turned away from the Black and Gold. Bergeron scored a goal in that Game 5 OT loss that didn’t go their way but was less and less effective playing with a herniated disc in his back as he finished a minus-6 in three playoff games and was on the ice for both the Florida game-tying and game-winning goals in Game 7.
Montgomery admitted that he actually discussed sitting the 37-year-old Bergeron with the Boston Bruins holding a 3-to-1 lead in the series at that point, but that the B’s captain told him he was ready to play.
“After Game 3, I called Patrice. We were in Florida, and I was talking to him, and I said, ‘I know you’re doing better; I’ve seen the video of your rehab skates. If we win Game 4, is it prudent to us to give you more time?’,” said Montgomery. “And he goes, ‘What do you mean?’ I go, ‘Do we not play you Game 5?’ And he said, ‘Monty, I’m playing Game 5.’ That was enough for me to know. You don’t keep Hall of Fame players out of the lineup.”
The Boston Bruins addressed his injury status as well, by confirming that nobody on the B’s roster is going to need surgery and that Bergeron’s injury was certainly more severe than whatever Linus Ullmark was playing through in the playoff series.
“We get a medical report every day as an organization and who is available to us,” said Sweeney. “So, the [Kevin Weekes report] of debilitating and painful injury [for Linus Ullmark] might have been more pertinent to Patrice Bergeron when he was injured.”
It’s really difficult to second guess anybody’s decision to ever play Bergeron at any point given his resume and his important to the hockey club. But there’s also no doubt that things turned away from the Boston Bruins in Game 5, and that a healthy Charlie Coyle and Pavel Zacha playing down the middle had the Panthers on the ropes prior than a less-than-100-percent Bergeron entering the playoff series with a bad back that was clearly hampering him against a Panthers team operating at full capacity this postseason.