Bruins Beat: Montgomery’s magic continues into 2024

As in 2023, the Boston Bruins’ Jim Montgomery continues to perform magic in 2024, as the Bruins posted their fourth consecutive win Tuesday night, with a 4-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. The magic seemed to happen because Montgomery made the decision to create a third line that included James van Riemsdyk, Trent Frederic and Danton Heinen. Their performance while together in Saturday’s Bruins-Sabres contest certainly created some interest, and likely caused another look by Montgomery. He still looked like a magician pulling a victory out of the hat, as three of the four goals scored came from the trio of van Riemsdyk, Frederic and Heinen. Not only did the win continue the Bruins’ win streak at four, but it also moved the locals, with a record of 23-7-6, back to the top of the league’s overall standings, as they recovered their previous success of sole position at number one.

Frederic’s goal was his third in the last two games, as he continues his solid play with physicality. Third line production for the night was an impressive five points, 3-2-5 points. In the post-game interview, van Riemsdyk who potted the game-winner was asked about his lack of goal scoring this season, his answer was quick, responding: “The team’s been winning, so obviously you want to contribute, again, over the years, obviously people would probably consider me more of a goal scorer, but I think my assist-to-goal ratio is pretty even over my career. This year’s it’s a bit more exaggerated, but that’s how it goes. The team’s been winning, so I am happy to contribute any way I can.” In addition to the trio’s success, former BU Terrier defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, stretched his goal-a-game streak with his third in three games. The goal, Shattenkirk’s fifth of the season, is the most scored by the Bruins’ defense corps. Adding to the night’s success was Linus Ullmark allowing a single goal in the win, boosting his record to 12-2-4. The return of van Riemsdyk and defenseman Matt Grzelcyk to the lineup facing the Blue Jackets boosted Boston’s play, following their scratch on Sunday in Detroit.

With the Bruins seemingly having righted the ship following their recent success over the last four games, the attention may start to focus on upcoming situations. Namely, Matt Poitras who is heading back to Boston, following the stunning loss by Canada to Czechia 3-2 in the quarterfinals of the World Juniors. Czechia’s goal with less than 12 seconds to play, ended Poitras’ stint with Team Canada and begins the adventure of his return back to Boston. This occurrence will raise questions upon his return…will Montgomery choose to let Poitras have some time to re-acclimate and recover from jet lag, and perhaps give his third line experiment a few more games together? Or will he opt to inject the youngster into the lineup, and see if he can keep the pace with his 2-2-4 point effort in the Juniors, to end up tied for third in the team’s scoring? In either case, it will be interesting.

The Bruins return to TD Garden ice for their next two games, hosting the Penguins tonight (Thursday 7:00pm), and the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday 7:00pm. On Monday the Bs will begin a four-game road trip with stops scheduled in Colorado (Avalanche), Arizona Coyotes (Tuesday), Vegas Golden Knights (Thursday), and finish on Saturday in St. Louis with the Blues.

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