Boston Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery continues to make sure that Bruins rookie center Matt Poitras and he are on the same page.
After benching the 19-year-old pivot in the third period of his team’s 5-3 win over the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday, the Boston Bruins bench boss made sure to explain why to Poitras before practice on Monday. However, this wasn’t your typical coaching session between player and coach. Instead, Montgomery stressed the positives when it comes to Poitras’ game and more importantly, the teammate and person Poitras continues to mature into.
“You have a very infectious smile,” Montgomery said to his youngest player. “I said, ‘When you smile, I feel better.’ Can you imagine your teammates? You know you’re 19 and in the NHL, right?”
As Jim Montgomery explained to Poitras and then the media after practice on Monday, benchings and being a healthy scratch as Poitras was Thursday when the Boston Bruins began some load management with the rookie, are all part of the journey of any young NHL player.
“He’s a 19-year-old kid that’s doing really good things to help the Bruins be 18-5,” Montgomery pointed out reporters. “And there’s gonna be struggles. I mean, there’s struggles for everybody. Even [David Pastrnak] has struggles. We try to impress upon him on how much we believe in him and how much he has to continue to grow. And those two things are intertwined in his career-long path of success as a Bruin.”
Poitras appreciated the positive reinforcement from the reigning Jack Adams Award winner.
“Smile and have fun,” Poitras told the media after practice. “I mean, I’m playing in the NHL. There’s no bad days here. I’m having fun. Just try to keep a smile on my face and get some energy to the guys.
Matt Poitras has five goals and seven assists in 25 games but four of those five goals came in his first 11 games in the NHL and the last one was scored on Nov. 27. While he hasn’t completely hit the proverbial rookie wall, Poitras acknowledged he’s had to adjust to the physical rigors of the NHL. That being said, Poitras is combating that by staying positive and appreciating his surroundings.
“There’s no easy nights,” Poitras pointed out. “I mean, I’m still confident in my ability, and I’m gonna keep trying to do my thing. Every season, every game there’s gonna be some adversity. But I still feel pretty confident. I’ve always been kind of a guy who likes to make plays offensively and maybe take a few risks, but I think there’s a time in place.
I think, as it gets late into a game, I want the coaches to trust me and put me out there. I got to be able to simplify my game, put pucks in when it’s needed when we have a lead late.”