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Jim Montgomery made a rookie mistake that could cost him dearly.
Credit: Capture d'écran / Screenshot
Keepers are bugs in a league of their own.

To be a goalkeeping coach, you have to be an outstanding technician, an outstanding pedagogue AND a specialist in the mental aspect of athletes at the same time. The idea is to find a recipe that works with the individual in question, a recipe that can be repeated over time.

When you get a goalie to win, you don’t change your formula. If it works, don’t fix it.

Everyone knows this. Everyone does it.

Except Jim Montgomery of the Bruins.

The Bruins’ coach saw his team mistreat the(o*tis de) Maple Leafs 5-1 in the first game of the series, thanks in part to an incredible 35 saves on 36 shots performance by Jeremy Swayman. What did he do in game #2? He sent Linus Ullmark through on goal.

Theresult: the Maple Leafs scored three goals on 34 shots, and returned to Toronto with the series tied 1-1 (and not in a two-game deficit).

Would the Bruins surely have won the game if Swayman had been the starting goalie, rather than Ullmark? Not necessarily… except that the coaching staff wouldn’t be pointing the finger so much right now. Coming back with your goalie who’s just performed miracles in the playoffs isn’t a very challenging decision. At worst, if he collapses in game #2, you go with the other one in Toronto…

But right now, the Bruins’ coaches seem to have made THE wrong decision. The one they shouldn’t have made.

And to say that this was your plan, drawn up long before the series began, only makes things worse: if you’d lost Game #1, you could have followed the plan… but after Swayman’s incredible performance to kick off the series, you should have been able to adjust your plan. Jim, you gambled and lost.

Two-goalie, equal-time households work in the M13, but they have their limits in the best league in the world. It’s even more obvious in the playoffs!

Imagine if Jacques Martin had decided to bring Carey Price on board after one of Jaroslav Halak’s incredible performances during the Halak spring… and Price had lost his game!

(Credit: Wikipedia)

Or: what would you have said if Anthony Stolarz had gotten the start yesterday in Sunrise, instead of Sergei Bobrovsky? Stolarz probably wouldn’t have made Bobrovsky’s miraculous save, and the Panthers wouldn’t be leading 2-0 this morning.

Aside from the Bruins, every other team in the East sent the same goaltender in the first two games of their respective series. Even Patrick Roy, who still had Ilya Sorokin on the bench standing next to a chair and the boards. Sorokin had even played more games than Varlamov during the regular season.

Same goes for the Capitals and Charlie Lindgren so far!

In the playoffs, you have to pick a goalie and go all-in with him. That’ s how it works!

In the West, only the Jets-Avalanche and Canucks-Predators series are down to two games.

Despite scoring 13 goals in the first game, the Jets and Avs coaches decided to go back to their starting goaltender for the second game. And since Georgiev found a way to win yesterday, and Connor Hellebuyck is an all-star goalie, it will most likely be the same in Game 3.

And you can be sure that if Thatcher Demko hadn’t been injured, Rick Tocchet would never have called on Casey DeSmith yesterday. It was a disaster against Juuse Saros and the Preds.

In short, a #1 goalie is meant to stay in front of the net in the playoffs. Not for rotation. Even if the second is a 1B goalie who won the Vézina not so long ago. #Ullmark

Teams that lifted the Stanley Cup didn’t rotate two goalies in the playoffs. Talk about Patrick Roy, Martin Brodeur, Andrei Vasilevskiy or even Jordan Binnington.

And Adin Hill would never have had a chance if Laurent Brossoit hadn’t been injured last spring.

In short, Jim Montgomery must act before it’s too late. He needs to identify today who his #1 goalie is and go with him for the rest of the playoffs. This will bring stability, confidence and consistency to the dressing room. I understand the strategy of involving your two goalies, but it doesn’t work in the playoffs.

Can’t wait to hear the Bruins coach’s decision today: having two elite-level goalies is a nice problem for Montgomery. #GetOutTheLeafs

In soccer, the coach doesn’t change his goalie willy-nilly, for the sake of rotation or after a bad game. He identifies his man (or woman) and goes with him (or her).

If the Habs ever surprise the hockey world and make the playoffs in 2025, I hope Martin St-Louis has identified which goalie got him there and goes all-in with him in the playoffs. If it’s Samuel Montembeault, don’t say to yourself, “We should give Cayden Primeau some games because…”.

We’ve endured the ménage à trois for far too long; let’s not make the same mistake with a possible ménage à deux in the playoffs.

Unless Renaud Lavoie is right and Jim Montgomery is the Habs coach one day…

In gossip

– William Nylander is on the ice this morning, but there’s no guarantee he’ll play tonight. Auston Matthews is not skating this morning, but will play tonight.

– Read more.

– Tyler Toffoli’s birthday.

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