Boston Bruins’ rookie center Matt Poitras is headed to Gothenburg, Sweden to play for his native Canada at the 2024 IIHF World Junior Championship.
As suggested here on Saturday, the Boston Bruins have decided that, at this time in his development stage, it would benefit the 19-year-old pivot to play against elite players his age and just a bit younger in one of the most exciting and pressure-filled tournaments in sports. Weather permitting, Poitras was set to fly to Sweden on Monday evening and be in the lineup for Canada’s first pre-tournament exhibition this weekend before the tournament kicks off on Dec. 26. The tournament runs until Jan. 5, and Poitras is expected to re-join the Boston Bruins on Jan. 8 in Denver when they play the Colorado Avalanche.
The 19-year-old rookie pivot sat out another game on Friday night as the Bruins continued to apply a load management plan to help Poitras develop and adjust to the mental and physical rigors of the NHL.
“As planned,” coach Jim Montgomery said of Poitras’ absence. “With the maintenance plan we’ve put in place for him for load management.”
Poitras returned to the lineup for the Bruins’ 2-1 overtime loss to the New York Rangers on Saturday night. He had one of his better games in recent weeks, finishing with an assist, and was a +1 in 19 shifts and 14:44 TOI. However, Poitras appeared to hit the proverbial rookie wall over the last month. On a recent episode of ‘The Eye Test Podcast’, longtime NHL analyst, coach, and executive Pierre McGuire discussed that and why Poitras going to the World Juniors could really help get the rookie center back on track for the Boston Bruins.
“I’ve been around the World Juniors since 1989; it doesn’t stifle players, it only helps them,” McGuire said. “If you watch Matt Poitras play right now, he’s not nearly comfortable enough playing in an NHL environment. He’s not strong enough on the puck; he’s not strong enough on the backcheck; he used to dominate the puck below the hash marks, but he’s not doing that anymore, and you can see defensively, he’s getting pushed around; he’s getting roughed up.
So now, you let him go over there – he’s playing on an elite Canadian team; they’re not a little bit good, they’re really good – he’s going to play elite minutes if he goes.”