How Jim Montgomery Righted Ship For Bruins At Perfect Time

Bruins coach Jim Montgomery sure seems to have the pulse of his hockey club.

Firing and rehab made Bruins' Jim Montgomery better on and off ice

Boston’s bench boss has pushed all the right buttons lately, not just with lineup decisions and deployment but with his motivational tactics as well.

Montgomery raised some eyebrows last week when he lit into his team during a practice at Warrior Ice Arena. Montgomery, nonplussed by back-to-back losses to the Rangers and Flyers, unloaded on his team during a practice during which he stopped the session and sent his team to the goal line for sprints.

Montgomery didn’t shy away from his critiques after practice. He lamented the performance against New York and was peeved with how his team finished its game in Philadelphia. His players said they heard the message loud and clear but ultimately the results would tell that story.

Well, it seems like Montgomery pushed the right buttons at the right time. The B’s returned from Philly for a couple of days before embarking on a four-game roadie through the southern part of the country. With a resounding 4-1 win Thursday night in Carolina, the Black and Gold put the finishing touches on a 4-1 stretch south of the Mason-Dixon Line.

Those weren’t cheap wins, either. The first win came against a Florida team battling the Bruins for the top spot in the Atlantic Division. The second win came in Nashville against a streaking Predators team that had gone 16-0-2 in an 18-game stretch between mid-February and late March. The Hurricanes entered Thursday night on an 11-2-1 run. Also, there was a gutsy shootout win over Washington; the Capitals, while now on a four-game losing streak, had eight of 12 to get into the Eastern Conference playoff picture ahead of the Bruins game.

The lone loss on the trip came against Tampa Bay, a night after the Bruins emptied the tank in the win over Florida.

“You have to be able to win on the road, especially against — all these teams we’re playing right now, are tough and they’re playoff ready and playoff bound,” Bruins captain Brad Marchand told reporters after the game Thursday in Raleigh. “They’re a great challenge every night. It’s the way you want to play. You want to play these tough games down the stretch, and getting prepared. It’s not going to get any easier, so it’s good for us right now.”

As Marchand noted, the road stays tough pretty much through the end of the regular season. The Bruins have five games left before the playoffs, starting with a big one Saturday against Florida. The Panthers will want revenge, of course, but it has all the makings of a potential tone-setting game for two teams who could meet again in the postseason. The B’s also have a similar showdown with the Hurricanes looming, and their penultimate game is in Washington against a Capitals team that gave them fits on this trip.

With the aid of a boot in the backside from Montgomery, the Bruins look like they’re on a much better path now ahead of the most important games of the year.

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