June 7, 2023

The Boston Bruins remain the gold standard of the NHL, 30 games into the 2022-23 regular season. Coming off of a 4-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday, the Bruins would extend their point streak at home to 18 games this season and have yet to lose consecutive games all season long. Despite this, head coach Jim Montgomery would make a remark post-game that, though not entirely accurate, definitely holds merit and should be considered.

Jim Montgomery Boston Bruins head coach
Jim Montgomery noted that the Boston Bruins need to play better hockey despite their continued winning ways. Though they’ve been the best team in the NHL so far this season, there are still areas they need to improve and tighten up to be the best they can be. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Though the Bruins have been incredibly successful so far this season and were coming off of a good win against the Blue Jackets, Montgomery would offer his thoughts on the team’s performance as of late.

“I don’t think we’re playing very good hockey,” Montgomery would say following the win. On the surface, this seems like it has to be a coach just trying to fire up his players and get even more out of them than he already has.

While this could be part of why he said what he said, his comments actually weren’t entirely off base. Ill-timed and lazy penalties, weird and potentially costly turnovers and general slopiness have all made an appearance as of late, and these types of issues all fall under the umbrella of “bad hockey.” While they aren’t the end of the world right now, Montgomery’s comments likely came as a message to his team, to the Bruins’ fan base and to the media alike; the team is not going to rest on their laurels and the small issues are known and will be constantly worked on despite the success this team has had thus far.

It should be noted that Montgomery isn’t criticizing the Bruins just for the sake of doing so; his comments are a result of his high expectations for this team. Given how the Bruins have performed this season, it’s fair to see why he’d have such high ambitions. At the end of the day, the head coach has to do everything in their power to instill winning habits and Montgomery’s consistent desire to be better shouldn’t be considered a negative.

Swayman the Bruins’ Best Player in Saturday’s Win

One funny moment from the end of Saturday’s contest was goalie Jeremy Swayman‘s near-goal that would have caused the roof to explode off of TD Garden.

Related: Bruins Shouldn’t Worry About Swayman’s Recent Struggles

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“For him to try that empty-net goal, I wish it would have gone in,” said Montgomery after the game “A little more English on it.”

Montgomery wasn’t the only person hoping for Swayman’s shot to hit twine. Taylor Hall was also excited and complimented Swayman not just for almost scoring, but for being the team’s best player today.

Jeremy Swayman: “I wanna score so bad, man. It’ll happen.”

“I was pumped,” Hall would say postgame. “It’s so hard to tell from the bench where the puck’s going, but that would have been awesome. That was a heads-up play to see that they (came) in with not a lot of pressure. Sway’s a guy that works hard on his puck handling. He’s really improved a lot as he’s come into the league. That would have been awesome to see to cap off a really good night for him. He needed that and he was strong for us when we needed him. Like I said, we weren’t our best, but Sway was our best player back there.”

This was a very important game for Swayman, for Linus Ullmark and for the Bruins as a whole; getting a solid performance out both goalies on any given night will give Boston the best chance of remaining competitive all season long. Swayman has been inconsistent at best this season, but it hasn’t been as glaring a hole for the team given how dominant Ullmark has been. Still, Swayman playing well means less reliance on Ullmark, and a more well-rounded approach.

Both goaltenders have an incredibly healthy respect for one another, so the Bruins are actually in a great spot in this regard.

The Bruins return to action Monday against the Florida Panthers and will look to tighten up their game from Saturday’s matinee. There will always be room for improvement, and this team is capable of putting together a winning effort for a full 60 minutes on a nightly basis; they’ll just need to get back to that before the wins start to dry up. There’s enough leadership and drive on this team to put together wins when it counts, so the Bruins shouldn’t have a whole lot to worry about in this regard.

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