Could Jim Montgomery’s Praise Of Bruins’ Matt Grzelcyk Hint Game 3 Elevation?

Grzelcyk has not played in the first two games


Apr 20, 2023

Jim Montgomery hinted the Boston Bruins could make tweaks to the lineup before Game 3 of their Stanley Cup playoff series against the Florida Panthers.

And while Montgomery didn’t share any specific changes immediately after Wednesday’s 6-3 loss in Game 2, or even when he spoke with reporters Thursday before leaving for Florida, Boston’s bench boss acknowledged one player who could “benefit” the group.

Perhaps Montgomery’s sentiments of Bruins blueliner Matt Grzelcyk, who has worn a suit for Games 1 and 2 rather than a Black and Gold sweater, indicates his elevation for Game 3.

“I think transition hockey and then the one part of Grizzy’s game that’s very underrated is how he kills plays before they end up in our own end,” Montgomery told reporters Thursday when asked what Grzelcyk, specifically, could provide the group, per the team.

“His great feet, angles, and his ability to gap-up on people force turnovers or maintain pucks in the offensive zone or three-quarter ice, which really allows us to get to our game,” Montgomery continued. “So those are areas that he I think can really benefit us.”

Arguably Boston’s biggest area for improvement is breaking the puck out of their own end with Florida’s forecheck proving a challenge through two games. It’s caused the Bruins to turn the puck over in their own end a ton, and Panthers have scored three of their six non-empty net goals off Boston turnovers. Specifically, a Dmitry Orlov turnover led to a Florida goal in Game 1 while miscues by Brandon Carlo and Charlie McAvoy led to goals in Game 2.

The skillset of Grzelcyk, who is arguably Boston’s best skater and puck mover on the back end, was especially missed in Game 2. Boston had 15 giveaways.

Adding Grzelcyk, perhaps with McAvoy on the top pairing, could also bolster the depth and versatility on Boston’s three pairings. The McAvoy-Grzelcyk pairing is one the organization know works and it’d allow both Orlov and Hampus Lindholm the opportunity to drive their own units. It’s worth noting how Boston won’t have last change with the Panthers at home the next two games.

The elevation of Grzelcyk likely would mean Boston sits either Connor Clifton or Derek Forbort, who each bring their own skillsets. However, getting Grzelcyk back into the lineup for Game 3 seems to be something Montgomery is considering, and for good reason.

The Bruins and Panthers will take the ice at FLA Live Arena on Friday night. Puck drop is set for 7:30 p.m. ET and you can watch it live on NESN following an hour of pregame coverage.

Thumbnail photo via Timothy T. Ludwig/USA TODAY Sports Images
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