Bruins’ Linus Ullmark Backs Jim Montgomery Amid Playoffs Criticism

'We lose as a team, we win as a team'


May 3, 2023

Jim Montgomery had the regular season of his life when he helped lead the Bruins to new NHL records, but it all came to a screeching halt in the Stanley Cup playoffs when Boston was eliminated in the first round at the hands of the Florida Panthers.

Throughout the 82-game season, Montgomery received heaps and heaps of praise. The first-year coach pushed all the right buttons, said all the right things and let his players play. But something happened in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs that had Montgomery jumbling his lines, breaking up Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand and, probably most notably, not moving to Jeremy Swayman before Game 7.

Linus Ullmark was a rock for the Bruins all year and is the favorite to win the Vezina Trophy. The goalie admitted during Tuesday’s break-up day at Warrior Ice Arena that he was hurt, but not injured. Ullmark was coy about the extent of what was wrong with him, but the eye test in Games 5 and 6 said he didn’t look like his usual self.

It was a head-scratcher that Montgomery didn’t go to Swayman before a do-or-die Game 7 and it was one of the rare times fans voiced frustration with Montgomery’s choices, especially with how Ullmark was playing.

Ullmark, who was playing in his first career playoff series, backed Montgomery when he was asked Tuesday about the criticism his head coach has received.

“I think that everyone that works in this — like you guys, it’s very easy, and also something that everybody does when things aren’t going the way they want to is that they’re trying to find a scapegoat,” Ullmark told reporters, per a team-provided transcript. “Right now, everybody is going at different directions. They’re going at Monty, they’re going up top, they’re going at me, they’re going at different people. That’s not what we’re about. We lose as a team, we win as a team. We’ve done that through the whole season. We try to do it as well now in the playoffs as well.

“Unfortunately, we lost four games in this series. That cost us to not go on to the second round, and that’s what it is. That’s human nature. Trying to find a scapegoat when things turn to (expletive). It’s natural, but it’s also not the right thing to do. I do love Monty. He’s been great for us all season long. I have full faith in him and whatever decisions he makes out there. He’s one of the best coaches, if not the best coach that I’ve had.”

It’s hard to point fingers at just one person when the defense left their goalies out to dry, injuries occurring and just the fact that anything can happen in a seven-game series.

The Bruins’ focus now shifts to the offseason where they have a slew of questions facing them about what the 2023-24 team will look like when the puck drops on the new season in the fall.

Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images
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