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  • What do the Bruins need to do to become playoff-ready?

    Tim Rosenthal March 26, 2024

    SUNRISE, Fla. — As a whole, the Boston Bruins haven’t come close to meeting the moment lately.

    During their challenging year-end slate, Jim Montgomery’s bunch failed to match the desperation of the teams fighting for playoff positioning. That trend reared its ugly head on Saturday afternoon against the Philadelphia Flyers.

    The Bruins clawed their way to two third-period equalizers from Justin Brazeau and Danton Heinen, only to watch momentum evaporate. Another set of ill-timed turnovers and lapses from Linus Ullmrak on Travis Konecney and Tyson Foerster — on a pair of shots he routinely denies — prevented Montgomery’s club from overcoming a slow 40-minute pace to steal two points.

    By late Monday morning, Montgomery had seen enough. The second-year bench boss tore into his team during a sluggish practice at Warrior Ice Arena, firing verbal expletives and forcing his team to sprint from one end of the goal line to the other.

    Montgomery said he saw enough improvement during the end of Boston’s training session. But his critiques continued into his press conference.

    “I hated the way we finished the game in Philly [on Saturday.] It was a good hockey game, it was playoff intensity, [had] physicality to it,” Montgomery told reporters. “And I don’t think I’ve done a good enough job of teaching the details and game management that we need.”


    Even after a productive morning skate at American Bank Arena, Montgomery can only gauge how the team responds to the latest adversity at the end of Tuesday’s tilt with the Florida Panthers.

    “We’ll see tonight,” Montgomery said. “I liked the end of practice yesterday. I thought our intensity was up. I didn’t go have dinner with any of the players, and I didn’t hang out with them this morning. So we’ll see tonight.”

    Indeed, he will, especially with the top spot in the Atlantic Division on the line.

    Amid their .500 pace since Black Friday (as noted by The Boston Globe’s Kevin Paul Dupont), the Bruins hardly look like a team worthy of first place. At this rate, they’d likely encounter difficulties winning one or two playoff games, much less advancing past the first round.

    Their schedule isn’t any easier. Eight of their final ten games (two with the Panthers, Capitals and Hurricanes and one each against the Lightning and Predators) come against teams currently holding a playoff spot entering Tuesday’s slate.

    The difficult season-ending stretch may help the Bruins become more battle-hardened to the tighter-checking and physically grinding nature of playoff hockey. But they need to adapt to that quickly, and it will take more than establishing defensive layers, generating chances off the forecheck, getting a struggling top power play unit back on track or receiving another round of timely saves from Ullmark or Jeremy Swayman.


    “Consistently know who we are individually to help the Bruins have success as a team. Who’s going to be able to raise their level of play as we play against desperate teams?” Montgomery said about what the Bruins need to do to become playoff-ready.

    “Tonight is first place [on the line] for both teams. It should be a great hockey game tonight. Who’s all in? Who’s going to make a play? Who wants the puck? Who wants to be a difference maker for us, offensively and defensively?”

    The Bruins overcame some late-season hurdles before embarking on a deep playoff run before. Their struggles in April of 2013 prevented them from solidifying one of the top seeds in the East but didn’t halt their hot streak following that thrilling Game 7 win over the Maple Leafs.

    This year’s Bruins don’t possess anywhere near the same depth as that 2013 squad. Most of that roster remained intact from their run to the Stanley Cup two years prior.

    The transitional Bruins of 2023-24 are a year removed from a bitter early end to their record-breaking regular season. They may have some reliable vets like Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak, Charlie Coyle and Charlie McAvoy as centerpieces for a potential deep run. But with little depth down the middle or on the back end, this year’s squad can’t wait to hit their stride by late April.

    Otherwise, they’ll continue playing from behind even if they land on a favorable first-round matchup.

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    Tim Rosenthal

    Tim Rosenthal serves as the Managing Editor of Bruins Daily. He started contributing videos to the site in 2010 before fully coming on board during the Bruins' Stanley Cup run in 2011. His bylines over the last decade have been featured on Boston.com, FoxSports.com, College Hockey News, Patch and Inside Hockey. You can follow Tim on Twitter @_TimRosenthal.


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