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Jim Montgomery criticized David Pastrnak: “he has to stand up”.
Credit: Capture d'écran / Screenshot

Last night, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins faced off. And for the second time in a row, Toronto avoided elimination by winning its game – without Auston Matthews – against the Bruins.

So here we are, right where we’d all hoped: in Game #7 on Saturday night in Boston.

This will be the first #7 game in the playoffs this year. But even though everyone was expecting it following a comeback, we were expecting Toronto to be the one in trouble.

As things stand, however, that’s not the case. The last two games – without Auston Matthews… but I’ve already said that – have helped a lot of people who want to save their jobs in Ontario.

The work isn’t complete, but let’s just say that doubt in Boston is currently enormous. No one has sold the bear before killing it, and there’s only one game left to decide.

Will the Maple Leafs go all the way? The question remains. After all, this is Toronto…

In any case, this will be an emotionally-charged game between the two original teams. On the one hand, the Maple Leafs will want to go through to the second round as they did last year, officially ending their curse… but on the other, all is not well in Boston either.

It’s important to remember that last year, the Bruins squandered a 3-1 lead against the Panthers in the first round. Following a historic regular season, the Bruins had escaped.

No one has ever lost a series back-to-back years after leading 3-1 in NHL history… and MLB history… and NBA history.

So, right now, the pressure is very, very high on the Boston Bruins. Is that why Bruins pilot Jim Montgomery decided to publicly send a message to David Pastrnak?

The Bears’ pilot said that his player must stand up in the big moments. Pasta does it at times, but he needs to learn to do it more consistently to help his team. #TheBestMustBeTheBest

But the question I’m asking myself is whether Jim Montgomery (who is right in what he says, let it be known) is also someone who needs to stand up for Boston.

Since the start of the series, he’s been at the heart of a goalkeeping “controversy” that could cost him dearly, as colleague Maxime Truman wisely wrote. If Jeremy Swayman had been the uninterrupted goalie on duty, the Maple Leafs might well have been swept aside.

He was also heard to whine that “the club was spending too much time in Toronto” because the schedule was wrong between games #3 and #4.

That’s not counting the fact thathe stayed angry too long after game #5 and the fact that he was unable to convey the sense of urgency to his guys, who came out very badly in the last two games to start the matches. The guys should have understood it on their own, but…

Montgomery didn’t have to deal without William Nylander and Auston Matthews (will he be back tomorrow night?) and you have to wonder if he’ ll be coaching for his job tomorrow night. In fact, it’s possible for a coach to lose his job over tomorrow night’s game, no matter what the situation.

It’s also interesting to note that Jim Montgomery’s playoff record isn’t stellar as a driver. In fact, he’s lost his last seven games where a win could have propelled him to the next round.

In his career, he has made the playoffs three times as an NHL head coach: in 2019 with the Stars and in the last two seasons as a Bruins pilot.

In the second round in 2019, the Stars led 3-2 against the Blues and lost two games in a row to lose the series. Last year, the Bostonnais club lost three straight games to the Panthers after leading 3-1… and now we know what happens.

And his eight-game NHL playoff experience with Philly in the 1990s isn’t going to change that.

Montgomery has a lot to live up to, and the way his club came out in the last few games has changed playoff history: the pressure is now on him.

Remember that Bruce Cassidy, who coached Boston just before him, won the Stanley Cup last year in Vegas.

In any case, right now, Jim Montgomery doesn’t look like a guy who has what it takes to lead the Habs. Because yes, one day (not in the short term, of course), that is a very real possibility.

In gusto

– The Joel Edmundson effect?

– The second round will begin Sunday… before the potential end of the first round. I don’t like it.

– Chris Wideman loved his time in Montreal.

– Interesting.

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