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Murphy: Montgomery Made The Right Call With Ullmark

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Boston Bruins

The Boston Bruins lost Game 2 3-2 to the Toronto Maple Leafs, but if not for goalie Linus Ullmark, that score could’ve been lopsided in favor of the Mape Leafs.

Despite Linus Ullmark making 30 saves in the loss and bailing out his teammates as much as any goalie could, Boston Bruins head coach Montgomery’s decision to start Ullmark over Jeremy Swayman was all anyone could basically talk about after the game on Monday night. Montgomery was immediately blasted by fans and some media on social media when Maple Leafs’ 69-goal scorer Auston Matthews beat Ullmark on a breakaway for the eventual game-winner 12:06 into the third period. It then took three questions for a reporter to ask Montgomery if he was second-guessing himself for starting Ullmark.

“No second guesses,” Montgomery replied. “[Ullmark] was terrific. He made multiple big-time saves. And it’s a strength of our team. Both of them played really well, right? I mean, we only scored two goals.”

Unfortunately for Montgomery, sticking with or abandoning the strict goalie rotation in the Stanley Cup Playoffs was always going to be a no-win situation. That likely would’ve been the case if Swayman lost Game 1 after Ullmark seemingly seized the starter’s role down the stretch run. So, while there is a strong argument to be made that riding one guy is the best way to go in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, it has to be recognized that the Bruins are in a unique situation here. What should be recognized even more, though, is that, unlike last spring when Montgomery didn’t stick to his guns and his plan, and it backfired, he’s doing the opposite now in the face of unavoidable criticism.

Anyone who watched Game 2 closely could not come away from that game thinking that Ullmark was the problem. The Bruins were simply outplayed. More importantly, they were outplayed through the neutral zone and in the trenches right in front of Ullmark. How can one seriously fault Ullmark on Domi’s lob pass over the neutral zone to Auston Matthews here?

 

 

The Bruins know that the stretch game is part of the Leafs’ bread-and-butter, so then how does their best defenseman Charlie McAvoy, get beat like that?

By the way, Patrick Roy or Marty Brodeur, in their primes, weren’t stopping Matthews there.

Or how about letting Maple Leafs captain John Tavares break free in front for his trademark turnaround slapper to tie the game at two on a powerplay goal with 1:34 left in the second period? Is that Ullmark’s fault?

 

 

Don’t forget that the Bruins were without one of their best penalty killers there, in Andrew Peeke, who left the game with 6:25 left in the second period after blocking a shot.

So, regardless of how much some people want to scapegoat Montgomery as they did last year when so many other more glaring issues than goaltending plagued the Bruins against the Panthers, the facts prove otherwise. Sticking with the goalie rotation is not why this series is headed back to Toronto tied at a game a piece. The key now isn’t to worry about the goalie rotation but to correct the multiple issues that have crept into the Bruins’ overall game.

 

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