BOSTON — The Boston Bruins beat the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday 5-2. It felt more like 10-2 the way the Bruins dominated. They hammered the Canadiens with 44 shots while limiting their opponents to 22.
“Absolutely,” coach Jim Montgomery said when asked whether the win was one of the most complete performances of 2023-24. “For 60 minutes, too. I thought we played the right way for 60 minutes, the way we want to play.”
1. Trent Frederic is big. He can skate. He doesn’t back down from the opposition.
For all that, Frederic has plenty of skill and processing power to complement his physical prowess.
Consider that before his first goal, Frederic originally drove the net when Charlie Coyle gained the offensive zone. When Coyle pulled up after the Canadiens blocked off his approach, Frederic had the awareness to drift into the slot and find an opening in Montreal’s coverage. Coyle passed to Brandon Carlo at the point. As Carlo studied his surroundings, Frederic lifted his stick to gain his teammate’s attention. Carlo hit Frederic’s stick for a deflection that gave the Bruins a 2-0 lead.
Freddy Deflection 🚨 pic.twitter.com/0cbeTm5JMV
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) November 19, 2023
The way Frederic saw it, Jake DeBrusk’s down-low presence encouraged him to move into the high slot for the tip.
“They’re probably looking at him more,” Frederic said of the Canadiens. “Brando did a great job finding a stick. Some of them go in. Some of them don’t. That one did, so it was nice.”
Frederic applied his breakaway speed on his second strike. He had finished serving a high-sticking penalty when the Bruins gained possession in the defensive zone. After taking a feed from Coyle, Frederic sped off and beat Jake Allen five-hole.
“Moving his feet. Being strong and heavy,” Montgomery said of what he noticed from Frederic. “Early in the game, he took pucks wide, gained the zone and held on to it. When he’s doing those things, I know he’s on top of his game.”
2. Jeremy Swayman had a light night. But he was tall when he was tested early. In the first, when the Bruins only held a 1-0 lead, Swayman shrugged off Brendan Gallagher on a partial breakaway. Later in the first, Swayman squared up to Alex Newhook’s high tip and swallowed up the shot.
Swayman started the night with a .944 save percentage. By the game’s end, it had dipped to .941.
Like that matters.
“I want to take every shot like it’s the last shot possibly,” Swayman said. “I want to make sure I’m doing everything I can to stop big saves, small saves, all the ones in between.”
The Bruins are off to Florida for a two-game trip before Thanksgiving. They will continue their goalie rotation.
3. Teams are wise to David Pastrnak as a power-play shooting threat. They do not want him teeing up his one-timer from the left elbow. Nor do they want him lurking back door.
In such instances, Pastrnak is happy to serve as a playmaker.
In the first period, Pastrnak recorded a secondary assist on Charlie McAvoy’s five-on-three strike. In the third, after receiving the puck at the top of the left circle, Pastrnak slashed into the middle of the ice to spot Brad Marchand at the far post. Moments later, James van Riemsdyk punched in a net-front puck.
“With all the left shots,” Montgomery said, referring to Marchand, van Riemsdyk and Pavel Zacha, “a lot of times now, he’s the guy. The power play’s going through him a lot. Because of that, we move him around so he changes the angles. He does it naturally. He understands seams and holes better than we do. I remember talking to him about a play just about a week ago. He’s like, ‘I don’t need to see the video. I know what you’re talking about.’ That’s how good his memory is and how smart his spatial awareness is of the ice.”
4. Van Riemsdyk led all forwards with 19:10 of ice time. The No. 2 left wing is up to five goals and seven assists in 16 games. It is a generous output for a veteran on a one-year, $1 million contract. He has done many good things for his new team, from being a net-front presence to keeping pace with his linemates to being a down-low power-play option.
“Anyone that’s played 16 years in the league, they’ve played that long for a reason,” Montgomery said. “They’re smart players. They know how to manage games. They understand the game within the game. He makes little subtle plays that make the people around him better. I didn’t know he was (as) good as he is. You coach against a guy like that and he does a couple things, but he doesn’t pop at you. But when you have him on your team, you realize how good he is and how important he is to winning.”
(Photo: Winslow Townson / USA Today)