Boston Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery sat down for an interview with Steve Conroy of The Boston Herald that was published early this morning, being quite forthcoming about quite a few subjects of note for Bruins fans. Perhaps most impactful, at least in the short term, was that Montgomery has essentially decided what the team’s first and second forward lines will look like entering the season.
It’s no easy task – the team’s loss of Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci has been their biggest story of the offseason, along with other solid complementary scorers such as last year’s trade deadline acquisition, Tyler Bertuzzi. Montgomery believes “everything else is going to be a work in progress” as training camp plays out, but he expects to spread out the team’s two remaining stars, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak, on different lines. He plans on keeping the duo of Pastrnak and Pavel Zacha together, a partnership that helped elevate the 26-year-old Zacha to a career-high 21 goals and 57 points last season. They’ll likely be flanked by veteran free agent signing James van Riemsdyk on the left wing. Marchand, on the other hand, will lead the team’s de facto second line with Charlie Coyle at center and Jake DeBrusk at right wing.
Other thoughts on the Bruins from Montgomery:
- Alex Chiasson may be a member of the Bruins on a tryout basis only, but it seems Montgomery has already penciled in the 32-year-old as a net-front presence on the team’s second power-play unit. “I thought Detroit’s power play became extremely tough to check the last two times we played them when he was at the net front,” Montgomery told Conroy. “So there’s a niche that he could possibly grab a hold of for our team.” Chiasson landed an NHL contract with Detroit at last season’s trade deadline after spending the year on an AHL contract with their affiliate in Grand Rapids. He recorded six goals and nine points in 20 games down the stretch of the regular season, with seven of those nine points coming on the power play.
- Montgomery also doesn’t anticipate moving forward Trent Frederic to center as some anticipated, instead keeping him on the right wing. He believes Frederic’s two-way game is most effective on the wing, and they’ll need him to contribute as much as he can in a bottom-six secondary role. That means free agent signing Morgan Geekie could be in line to assume the team’s third-line center role behind Zacha and Coyle after averaging just 10:27 per game for the Seattle Kraken last season.
- Lastly, Montgomery confirmed the team plans to replace former assistant coach John Gruden before the season starts, although in a different role. Gruden left after just one season with the Bruins to serve as head coach for the AHL’s Toronto Marlies next season. Gruden’s previous responsibilities, managing the defense and the penalty kill, will be delegated to the Bruins’ remaining two assistants, Chris Kelly and Joe Sacco. Montgomery says the team’s hire to replace Gruden will be more development-focused and won’t be on the bench during games.