Jim Montgomery maps out expectations, imaginative and prescient for revamped Bruins lineup


“It is a chance for guys to be put in some totally different roles and construct their recreation.”

The Boston Bruins held their annual charity golf tournament at the Pinehills Golf Course. Coach Jim Montgomery chats with reporters.
Jim Montgomery has already began to chart out the Bruins’ revamped ahead grouping. John Tlumacki / The Boston Globe

The Bruins won’t take to the ice as a full squad till subsequent week, when coaching camp for the 2023-24 season formally commences at Warrior Ice Enviornment.

However that hasn’t stopped head coach Jim Montgomery from beginning to chart out roles and expectations for what might be a revamped ahead corps this winter.

Chatting with reporters forward of the Boston Bruins Basis’s annual golf match at Pinehills Golf Membership on Thursday, Montgomery mentioned his preliminary ideas on a reshuffled roster.

It doesn’t essentially come as a lot of a shock, however Montgomery reiterated as soon as once more that each Charlie Coyle and Pavel Zacha will tackle top-six roles this season following the retirement of each Patrice Bergeron and Pavel Zacha.

Montgomery first confirmed Zacha and Coyle’s anticipated promotions again in late August in an interview with Steve Conroy of The Boston Herald, noting that Coyle will doubtless skate with Brad Marchand and Jake DeBrusk, whereas Zacha will anchor a line that includes David Pastrnak and James van Riemsdyk. 

Each Coyle and Zacha will be unable to duplicate the two-way mastery and high-end manufacturing that Bergeron and Krejci generated for over 15 years collectively in Boston.

Nonetheless, Montgomery and the Bruins’ high brass had been impressed with how each Coyle and Zacha fared within the Stanley Cup Playoffs as Boston’s impromptu 1C/2C.

“They each can deal with a whole lot of minutes,” Montgomery stated of Coyle and Zacha. “Each of them are coming into believing who they’re and the way they should play no matter who they’re enjoying with … We’re actually snug, particularly after seeing them in massive video games in Video games 3 and 4, enjoying 19 to twenty minutes and play in addition to they did.

“Now, I’m hoping they don’t should play 20 minutes at night time. However we all know they’ll deal with that and that they’ll deal with all three zones.”

Zacha, who surpassed his earlier profession excessive in scoring by 21 factors in 2022-23, appeared like a pure candidate for a featured function down the center, particularly subsequent to his fellow countryman in Pastrnak.

Coyle has been at his finest in Boston as a 200-foot, puck-possession 3C. However subsequent to elevated wingers like Marchand and DeBrusk, Coyle may flip that trio into extra of a shutdown grouping, particularly if it carves out extra O-zone ice for van Riemsdyk-Zacha-Pastrnak.

Throughout the common season, a Marchand-Coyle-DeBrusk line logged 42:16 of 5v5 ice time collectively, with Boston holding the sting in shot makes an attempt (49-34), pictures on purpose (22-17) and objectives scored (2-1).

“I assumed he stepped up,” DeBrusk stated of Coyle’s play within the postseason. “I truly hadn’t considered that collection shortly, however I feel that he was stable in these video games. I’ve performed with Charlie earlier than as properly, with totally different varieties of fellows on the left and on the best.

“So I really feel snug enjoying with Charlie, all the time have, and I feel he’s a man that all the time has good begins. He all the time involves camp prepared and ready. I feel it’s a kind of issues the place it’s a chance for guys to be put in some totally different roles and construct their recreation. I feel that’s what each participant desires and that’s what the duty at hand is.”

Backside six stays a piece in progress

Montgomery tipped his hand about preliminary projections for Boston’s top-six unit.

However the third and fourth traces? That’s one other story.

Granted, Montgomery and his workers can have no scarcity of choices as they attempt to combine and match the very best six gamers on the ice.

Free-agent signings like Milan Lucic, Morgan Geekie, Patrick Brown, and Jesper Boqvist will attempt to set up themselves, whereas returning gamers like Trent Frederic, A.J. Greer, and Jakub Lauko are centered on entrenching themselves to set spots.

PTO candidates like Alex Chiasson and Danton Heinen try to earn a spot on the NHL roster, whereas a bevy of prospects and Windfall regulars will attempt to push for a spot up in Boston. 

“There’s little question there’s far more jobs which are open, proper? And competitors is nice,” Montgomery stated. “And I do assume that we’re all hoping that there’s going to be nice surprises which are going to make the crew — sort of like Lauko did and A.J. Greer did out of camp final yr.”

Till camp commences and Montogmery can begin placing his traces in a blender, it stays to be seen what sort of identification is solid on the third and fourth traces. However no matter no matter mindset or mentality these ahead trios take, Montgomery will stress a team-first mantra additional down the depth chart.

“Gamers which are gonna have an effect on video games which are gonna make us higher and relish their roles,” Montgomery stated of the bottom-six identification. “You lose guys … We misplaced [Tomas] Nosek. I caught him on the market on defensive-zone attracts, he received a foul hand dealt by me.

“However he beloved it. He relished it. And he strikes the puck from the D zone to the offensive zone. You want gamers like that, that aren’t going to fret about how they’re getting used, however care about how they’re serving to the crew win.”

Granted, it’s not an excessive amount of of a stretch to imagine that any checking unit that includes a bruiser like Lucic will tackle a pugnacious mindset in 2023-24.

“I feel Pasta received’t get hit as a lot, Marchy received’t get hit as a lot as a result of Looch is within the lineup,” Montgomery famous. “However I’m nonetheless gonna need Looch to be an individual that decides momentum within the video games. … Carrying the momentum of the crew, recognizing after we’re shedding momentum going on the market, making an enormous hit or attending to the netfront, crashing the online — very related issues that [Nick] Foligno did for us. However in all probability due to his historical past right here, carry extra weight inside that function.”

Easy crusing on protection, in web

For the entire turnover up entrance for Boston, Montgomery and Co. won’t have to stress that a lot over the state of the Bruins’ protection and goalie corps.

Boston returns arguably the very best goalie tandem within the NHL in Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman. 5 of Boston’s six starters on protection final season (forward of the 2023 commerce deadline) will even return, with veteran Kevin Shattenkirk slotting in for Connor Clifton after he signed with the Sabres in free company.

Hampus Lindholm expects Boston’s protection to as soon as once more be a pillar of the crew’s success in 2023-24, with their function much more heightened as a result of lack of defensive-minded facilities like Bergeron, Krejci, and Nosek.

“Krech I feel was additionally underrated in how good he’s defensively with coming in and serving to,” Lindholm stated of Krejci and Bergeron. “Two actually good gamers, however this group all the time finds methods and there’s gonna be alternatives for different guys to step up.

“Like I stated, for our D corps right here, I feel it’s an enormous, massive alternative for us to step up and simply sort of present that we get even [responsibility] with out Bergy and Krech.”


With Bergeron now out of the equation, the Bruins are coming into coaching camp with out a set captain. However Montgomery doesn’t count on Boston to open the common season with out a “C” stamped on somebody’s sweater.

“Right, I feel we do,” Montgomery stated when requested if the Bruins count on to call a brand new captain this season. “I feel we’ve sufficient actual good leaders that we may have a captain that might lead us.”

The Bruins have loads of deserving candidates, together with Brad Marchand, Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, and David Pastrnak.

“I feel we’ve had inner conversations and I feel selections might be made,” he stated. “I don’t know if there’s a timeline but to resolve.”

The Bruins are nonetheless looking at a emptiness on their teaching workers, with assistant coach John Gruden exiting the group earlier this summer time to take the pinnacle teaching place with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies.

Joe Sacco, Chris Kelly, and Bob Essensa nonetheless stay on Montgomery’s workers, however the B’s bench boss expects any addition to be made in brief order.

“We’re actually shut,” Montgomery stated. “I feel you possibly can count on an announcement subsequent week.”