Coach Jim Montgomery planned to be in playoff preparation mode for the Bruins’ back-to-backer with the Detroit Red Wings Saturday and Sunday. Part of Montgomery’s mixing and matching included a Tyler Bertuzzi-Tomas Nosek-Garnet Hathaway line to start in the Bruins’ 3-2 win over the Red Wings Saturday. A.J. Greer took Bertuzzi’s place on ensuing shifts, Bertuzzi joining David Pastrnak and David Krejci.
“I thought they were our best line all night long,” Montgomery said of the Bruins’ fourth line. “Right from the first shift of the game, where I thought they got us going north. They had a lot of good looks and spent a lot of time in the O zone, despite the fact that I start them in the D zone a lot of times.”
Hathaway produced the deciding goal with a back-post finish of a rebound of Greer’s blast from the point.
“We always try to find a way, obviously, to play that heavy fourth-line game,” Greer said, “Because we have so much skill up front, we need a little bit of pushback. Whenever they become physical we need to set the tone – you’re not going to be able to push anyone around. This time of year guys are battling to make the playoffs, we’re getting guys’ best shots. We feed off that energy and it’s nice to be rewarded for the hard work we’ve been doing.
“Down two goals, we told ourselves on the bench we need something to light a spark here, and we need to go out there and do something to ignite not only our team but the crowd. Great job hemming their D men in their zone, relentless pressure, physical. If we play the right way offensive chances will come. Great play all around for the goal ― Hath doing his job, going to the net — exactly what we need as a fourth line is just crashing the net and getting those dirty goals.”
Hathaway scored his first goal in seven games since joining the Bruins, slipping a shot past Magnus Hellberg.
“Our game is moving through the zones, trying get in the O zone, and I think we were able to wear them down a little bit,” Hathaway said. “I thought we got better as we played.”
Hathaway was impressed with Patrice Bergeron’s first-period motivational speech.
“He brought us together,” Hathaway said of Bergeron. “He’s a great leader. We lean on him a lot and it’s a huge testament to his character. It’s what can we change, what can do? We can’t change the two goals that went in so what can we alter to get back in the game? So just take a breath. This team is great at calming down. There’s no rush, right? There’s 50 minutes left in the game, so there’s a lot of time.
“You don’t want to be down, 2-nothing, especially that early, in your building, so what can we do to turn the tide? We hemmed them in their zone a lot and we gained momemtum and got them on their heels.”
Jeremy Swayman will start in goal at Detroit Sunday. As for Linus Ullmark, Montgomery said: “If we have consecutive every second day, we’ll look at maybe getting him two or three in a row. But it’s tough with the schedule we have right now. Like, we go every Saturday-Sunday for the next five weeks.”
The Bruins will likely call up forward Jakub Lauko from Providence for a road trip that continues in Chicago (Tuesday); Winnipeg (Thursday); Minnesota (Saturday); and Buffalo (Sunday, March 19).
“We’re actually looking at this like a two-game set,” Montgomery said. “More like Games 4-5, or Games 5-6, of a series back-to-back, same opponent, home-away.”
As for resting players, Montgomery said: “This is a tough stretch of games, so right now it’s more about getting through these games, playing good Bruins’ hockey. I don’t think we have the luxury except on the back end. We’ve had sports science looking at it. It’s more like looking at a percentage of volume over the course of a month. There’s a lot of factors that go into this. Whether we’ll have the luxury of doing it remains to be seen.”
Frank Dell'Apa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.