There is no doubt that this season’s Boston Bruins team is special. They are on a historical run that no one saw coming but with 12 games remaining in the regular season, the Black and Gold are not only leading the league in wins (54), points (113) and goal differential (+114), they have individual leaders among the league as well.
Linus Ullmark is leading all goaltenders with 35 wins, a 1.95 goals against average and a .937 save percentage and is the favorite to win the Vezina Trophy. Head coach Jim Montgomery is the front runner for the Jack Adams Award and Patrice Bergeron is pretty much a lock for his record sixth Selke.
San Jose’s Erik Karlsson is the current favorite to win the Norris Trophy for best defenseman largely impart to his offensive output of 22 goals and 65 assists, but Montgomery believes Lindholm should be in the discussion.
“How he’s driven play at both ends of the ice. Especially carrying the load of the (defensive) core when (Charlie McAvoy) was out early in the year,” Montgomery told reporters in a team-provided video. “And then just how he continues to have an impact night in and night out.”
Lindholm leads the league, not just defensemen, with a plus-46 rating as he has played in 69 of Boston’s 70 games while notching 10 goals and 38 assists.
“How much we lean on him to match up against other team’s top players and top lines that plays into it too. To me that would be the significant arguments for him,” Montgomery added. “Our problem is we have two (defensemen) that should, could win the Norris.”
According to Montgomery, the Bruins defenseman believes he can change the outcome of a contest, no matter what type of game he’s having.
“I always marvel at the players that have that ability because like, Michael Jordan, he could go 2-for-21 but he wants that ball in the last minute because he goes, ‘I’m going to go 3-for-22.’ He doesn’t think he’s going to go 2-for-23,” Montgomery explained. “I would have thought, ‘It’s not my night,’ but it’s always his night and I think great players have that. I think Hampus has that.
“He always believes he’s going to make a play that’s going to help us end up on the right side of the score sheet. Doesn’t matter the time of the game, doesn’t matter the game he’s having prior to that moment.”
When it comes to defense pairs, Montgomery doesn’t have a specific game plan, it really depends on the opposing team’s depth.
“I’m very comfortable with all of our defensemen and using them,” he said. “As you’ve seen they’ve all been interchangeable, and I don’t think there’s been a drop off in our play by our defensemen individually, and collectively most importantly.”
The last Bruins defenseman to earn the Norris Trophy was Zdeno Chara in 2009.