Bruins’ Jim Montgomery still not over Game 5 loss — ‘I don’t understand’

Game 6 goes Thursday night.

Jim Montgomery in middle of image looking upset, Matthew Knies in image looking happy, Boston Bruins logo, hockey rink in background

The Boston Bruins had a pristine opportunity to once again eliminate the Toronto Maple Leafs in their Eastern Conference first-round series at TD Garden on Tuesday night. But after maybe the team’s worst game of the series, the two Atlantic Division rivals are headed back north to Canada for Game 6.

And Jim Montgomery is not pleased about it.

“I’m still pissed off from last night, to be honest,” the head coach said after Boston’s optional practice on Wednesday, per ESPN’s Kristen Shilton. “I don’t understand and don’t accept our play last night. I’m going to be pissed off until the puck drops [in Game 6].”

The Bruins were unable to get more than one goal past Leafs netminder Joseph Woll, who made 27 saves in the 2-1 victory. Jeremy Swayman turned aside 31 of the 33 shots he faced, but couldn’t deny Matthew Knies early in overtime.

And with that, Toronto will have a chance to win a game at Scotiabank Arena and force a Game 7 back in Massachusetts. For the Bruins, the lacklustre Game 5 performance led to a team meeting.

“We wanted to review the game and where we went wrong,” Montgomery explained. “We started talking about where we need to get better. Some of that’s physical. Some of it is mental. Some of it is staying in the moment. I don’t think we did a good enough job staying in the moment last night. That’s what we’re looking for [in our] next game.”

Jim Montgomery, Bruins still just a game away

Boston Bruins coach Jim Montegomery speaks to the media after an overtime loss in game five of the first round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Toronto Maple Leafs at TD Garden.Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Although the Bruins were unable to silence the Leafs at home in Game 5, they’re headed back to a rink they haven’t lost at once in 2023-24. Toronto just can’t beat Boston at home this year, and that could certainly be a factor once again on Thursday.

“Some of that’s physical and some of it’s mental,” Montgomery said about what his team needs to improve in Game 6, per NHL.com’s Amalie Benjamin. “Some of it’s staying in the moment that we talk about. I don’t think we did a good enough job staying in the moment last night. And that’s what we’re looking for, to get better for next game.

“There’s a little bit of the mentality of we have to bring our own juice, we have to rely on each other. It’s kind of like a band of brothers mentality, which is something that I think our team thrives on.”

You never know what kind of Leafs team is going to come out in the playoffs, but it’s safe to assume they’ll bring their best game of the series in front of the home crowd in an elimination Game 6.

“You get these opportunities and series, and you have to make the most of them,” said Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy. “The fourth game is the hardest one to get, but we have some experience in it. For us, it’s really about just playing our best game, seeing where the chips fall.”

And Thursday night will do just that, determining if it will be a Bruins-Florida Panthers rematch in Round 2, or if it’ll be the two best words in sports at TD Garden come Saturday.