There are only two teams in the NHL with more points than the Bruins, and with 10 games to play, winning a loaded Atlantic Division and/or capturing the Eastern Conference’s top seed is very much in reach for Boston.

You wouldn’t know it listening to head coach Jim Montgomery, though.

The Bruins are sputtering a bit as they get into the teeth of a six-game road trip. They couldn’t solve the Rangers’ riddle Thursday night at home, and Boston did not have a good finish to open the trip Saturday in Philadelphia. Boston returned home before heading to Florida, and Monday’s practice didn’t start well, at least not in the eyes of Montgomery, who didn’t hide his frustration.

Montgomery explained himself after practice.

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“I hated the way we finished the game in Philly,” he told reporters Monday at Warrior Ice Arena. “It was a good hockey game, it was playoff intensity, a good physicality to it. I don’t think I’ve done a good enough job of teaching the details and game management that we need, and then we weren’t prepared to practice today.

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‘So that’s why. Those things coupled together, not ready to start practice on time, guys not knowing what we’re supposed to be doing, Again, I take responsibility for it, but there has to be some responsibility from the players, too.”

With less than a month to play before the playoffs, physicality and intensity have picked up across the league as teams fight for playoff spots. In fact, Montgomery said he’s been surprised by just how much tighter the checking has been in recent weeks, compared to past years when teams really get it dialed in after the All-Star break.

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Now, he needs to see the Bruins on the same level as the rest of the league’s contenders ahead of what Montgomery hopes is still a deep playoff run. But there needs to be improvement.

“I don’t think our team’s ready yet for the playoffs,” Montgomery admitted. “We gotta continue to get tested, and we’re going to get tested. … It’s been consistent throughout the year. We have good stretches where we manage the game and then we get away from it. You can’t get away from it. You just can’t give a game away in the playoffs because you don’t get to play the following week if you do (that).”

Bruins captain Brad Marchand understood where Montgomery was coming from and agreed with the general message.

“Every day it’s our job to be sharp, to be on the ball, and we weren’t today,” the captain said. “It was a great reminder from Monty that expectations are high here, completely warranted, and especially with the games we have coming up and where we’re at in the season. We need to be dialed in every day. We weren’t to start the practice, so great job by him to notice that, keep us accountable and keep us dialed in.”

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The B’s now head back out on the road for a Florida swing against the Panthers and Lightning before road tilts at Washington, Nashville and Carolina. Those are some heavy hitters, with all five teams currently holding playoff spots and should be a solid test for where the Black and Gold sit ahead of the postseason.

“What needs to change,” Montgomery said, “is more accountability in our team valuing playing the right way always.”

The Bruins get their first chance to do that Tuesday in Florida.

Featured image via John E. Sokolowski/USA TODAY Sports Images