The Bruins sit atop the Atlantic Division at 17-4-3, but Boston’s inability to close out games has crept into the narrative surrounding the team.

Opponents have scored NHL-worst six times against the Bruins with their goalie pulled at the other end of the ice, but Boston’s bench boss Jim Montgomery believes the numbers are not as bad as they seem.

“We lead the league by nine minutes in those situations. We’re going to give up more goals it’s just the odds,” Montgomery said, per the team.

“I think what makes it challenging is we have so many different players outside of the defensemen. We know who the four defensemen are we have forwards playing in those important minutes that probably haven’t done it in their career before except for (Brad Marchand) and (Charlie Coyle) so we got new guys and new situations. You gotta expect negative results more than you would if you have (David) Krejci and (Patrice) Bergeron out there. That’s just the way it happens.”

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Montgomery said the Bruins are working on developing other skaters in those situations but have primarily used six to eight forwards with Charlie McAvoy, Matt Grzelcyk, Hampus Lindholm and Brandon Carlo on defense.

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“There’s primarily been eight forwards we’ve used in those situations so far this year because when you play with the lead … first of all, lucky to be playing with leads like we do down the stretch,” Montgomery said. “You have to use at least six forwards and sometimes depending on faceoffs, you’re gonna have to use seven or eight so we’re developing seven or eight players. We know in the last 45 seconds who the two (defensemen) we expect to be out and who the three forwards, three or four forwards depending on where the draw is”

Even though the Bruins have surrendered six goals, Montgomery outlined what changes could help Boston through the remainder of the season.

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“You gotta expect negative results more than you would if you have (David) Krejci and (Patrice) Bergeron out there.”

Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery

“Experience of being out there. Having the calm, inner calm to be able to make poise plays and to be able to realize where the important ice is,” he said. “We’ve run out of the middle of the ice a couple of times. … The intentions are good but it’s kind of a panic read where we got to just hold the most important ice when they have possession.”

Pulling the goalie for the extra skater is common practice in the NHL and Montgomery made an odd timing choice during the Bruins’ 5-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Nov. 27.

“I probably raised a lot of eyebrows when I pulled the goalie in Columbus with seven and a half minutes left,” he said. “We weren’t generating anything. It’s 4-1, I don’t care if I lose a game 5- compared to losing 4-1. If we’re gonna win the Jennings (Trophy), we’re gonna win it. I’m not worried about that in game 24.”

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Featured image via Dan Hamilton/USA TODAY Sports Images