​​Bruins Game 6 plan: Possession, traffic and more desperation — ‘Still pissed off’

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BRIGHTON, Mass. — On Wednesday morning, the Boston Bruins held a video session at Warrior Ice Arena to go over Game 5. Reviewing the 2-1 overtime loss did not ease Jim Montgomery’s mind.

“I’m still pissed off from last night, just being honest,” the Bruins coach said of the lost opportunity. “I don’t understand and don’t accept our play last night. So I’m going to be pissed off until the puck drops tomorrow night.”

Video confirmed what the Bruins already knew. They never matched the Toronto Maple Leafs’ desperation, especially in a first period when they were outshot 11-2. They didn’t control the puck enough. They trembled under Toronto’s forecheck. Clean zone exits were uncommon occurrences. 

As for pressure on Joseph Woll in his first start of this postseason, it was practically nonexistent.

“For one, we’ve got to possess more pucks,” Montgomery said. “We have to attack inside the dots. And we’ve got to screen. We’ve got to stop and screen the goalie.”

The 180-degree deviation from Games 3 and 4 is what puzzled Montgomery the most. The Bruins took a 3-1 series lead because of how they fulfilled Montgomery’s three-point playoff plan: staying above pucks, getting behind the Leafs and being physical.

Personnel may have been an issue.

Instead of rolling the same lineup from Games 3 and 4, Montgomery took Kevin Shattenkirk and Johnny Beecher out. He put in Matt Grzelcyk and Justin Brazeau. It didn’t work. 

A day later, Montgomery held firm to his adjustments.

“I end up making decisions that I was really confident was what’s best for the Boston Bruins,” Montgomery said. “When it doesn’t work out, I understand. It comes with the territory. I’m going to be second-guessed. And third- and fourth-guessed. Rightfully so. That comes with the territory. Just like when you make changes and things work out. It’s the same thing. But I know that I’m comfortable with the decisions I made, why I made them, moving forward and the criticism that comes with it.”

Shattenkirk and Beecher could return in Game 6. By putting Shattenkirk back with Parker Wotherspoon, the Bruins would have a lefty-righty duo on the No. 3 pair. Beecher, who scored in Game 1, has a 54.8 percent faceoff winning percentage, tops among the regular draw men.

“Beecher and Shatty in particular always have responded when they get back in the lineup with a really good effort,” Montgomery said. “So that gives you confidence to put them back in.”

Pastrnak takes a step back

Montgomery liked how David Pastrnak was trending in Game 4. With a dish from Brad Marchand, Pastrnak gave the Bruins a 3-0 lead in the final minute of the second period. 

That progress stalled in Game 5. Pastrnak had four shots in 20:06 of ice time, most among team forwards. Pastrnak blocked a Mitch Marner attempt in the second period, but it took place after he turned the puck over at the blue line. 

“I thought his game was building in Game 4,” said Montgomery. “You saw our team game last night. It wasn’t up to snuff. It wasn’t up to our standard.”

Pastrnak has two goals and 14 shots. He moved back to the No. 1 power-play unit in Game 5, sharing time with Marchand, Charlie McAvoy, Charlie Coyle and Jake DeBrusk. The power play was 0-for-1.

Brazeau was ‘rusty’

Justin Brazeau made his playoff debut in Game 5 after injuring his right wrist on April 2. He had no shot attempts in 10:03 of ice time, taking most of his shifts with Pat Maroon and Jesper Boqvist on the fourth line.

“Rusty,” Montgomery said. “His wall work wasn’t as good as what it was usually. Still had a couple offensive plays. Didn’t get to his spots where he usually can hang onto pucks a little bit more. Did it a couple times. But not often enough. If he gets the opportunity to play again tomorrow night, we expect him to be better.”

Limited recovery for Swayman

Jeremy Swayman was sharp again in Game 5. Despite letting in two goals, Swayman’s save percentage is .952, tops among goalies with multiple playoff starts. It is unlikely the Bruins would go back to Linus Ullmark for Game 6.

But Swayman’s situation has changed. After Game 3, Swayman slept in the same Toronto hotel bed for three nights prior to Game 4. The Bruins traveled back to Boston the day after Game 4, giving Swayman two full nights at home.

The turnaround is quicker this time. The Bruins had an optional practice on Wednesday morning. Swayman did not go on the ice. They were scheduled to fly to Toronto on Wednesday afternoon.

Also, the Leafs now know Swayman is beatable. If the Bruins go to Ullmark in Game 6, Swayman would be better rested for a possible Game 7.

(Photo of Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak: Maddie Meyer / Getty Images)

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