5 Bruins action items for Game 7: It starts with David Pastrnak

BEDFORD, Mass. — For the second straight year, the Boston Bruins are waving their pompoms ahead of Game 7 instead of kicking themselves for giving away a 3-1 series lead. They have no other choice.

“You come into the season and you ask any of us we’re going to play in Game 7 in the first round to move on, we’d all jump at that opportunity,” Charlie Coyle said upon the team’s Friday afternoon touchdown at Hanscom Field. “It doesn’t matter how we got to this Game 7. It doesn’t matter if we lost the last three, won the last three. We’ve won three games. They’ve won three games. You wash that away. It’s a one-game series.”

Last year, the Bruins lost in overtime in Game 7 to the Florida Panthers. Gagging again cannot be on their minds.

“If I dwell on the past, yeah, you feel pressure then,” coach Jim Montgomery said. “You can’t dwell on the past. It’s not healthy.”

The Bruins, then, have a checklist to deter another choke and end the Toronto Maple Leafs’ season.

After the 2-1 Game 6 loss, it was out of character for Montgomery to identify David Pastrnak as the player who needed to bring more in Game 7. Montgomery reverted to positivity on Friday when discussing his muted right wing.

“I talked to him right after the game about it,” said Montgomery. “I talked to him about it during the game. Pasta and I have a real healthy, communicative relationship. He’s ready to go.”

Pastrnak is scoreless in the past two games and has two goals and four points in the series after scoring 47 goals and 110 points in the regular season. He promised to shoot more in Game 7. He has 18 shots in the six games, 3.17 per game, well below his regular-season average of 4.66 per.

Expect Montgomery to double- and triple-shift Pastrnak on offensive-zone starts. 

Disrupt Joseph Woll’s sightlines

Joseph Woll was excellent in Games 5 and 6. The Bruins helped him thrive. The former Boston College goalie had clear looks at pucks more often than not.

That has to change.

“If they’re shooting pucks from inside the dots and we have bodies at the net,” Montgomery said of his defensemen, “something we haven’t done a good enough job of is taking away his eyes on those point shots.”



Joseph Woll’s Game 5 win was a joyful Boston homecoming

Get to loose pucks

The Leafs are fully committed to stuffing bodies in shooting lanes. They blocked 27 shots in Game 6. Morgan Rielly ate the puck a game-high five times.

The thing about blocks, though, is that they produce loose pucks. Nobody knows where they’ll end up. The more the Bruins get bodies in dangerous ice, the better their chances at winning recoveries and following up on Woll.

“We’ve got to get to inside ice more with the puck and without the puck,” Montgomery said. “It sounds simple. Inside ice is between the dots. If you’re outside the dots with or without the puck, you’re not a real threat to score. And you’ve got to get below the tops.”

The Bruins’ big boys (Coyle, Trent Frederic, James van Riemsdyk, Justin Brazeau, Pat Maroon) will be counted on to get there.

Jeremy Swayman has been the Bruins’ top playoff performer. He has a .947 save percentage, No. 2 among postseason goalies to Woll (.964), his former Hockey East counterpart. William Nylander scored the only Game 6 goals, first with a deflection off Charlie McAvoy, second on a breakaway.

“We need everybody to be more like Jeremy Swayman,” Montgomery said. “He’s just owned the moment. He’s in the moment. He’s staying in the moment. He’s relishing being a difference-maker.”

Saturday will be Swayman’s fifth straight start. His regular-season high was four. Whether he has enough gas in the tank to be elite remains to be seen.

GettyImages 2149954667 scaled e1714774078165

Jeremy Swayman shared the net with Linus Ullmark in the regular season. (Claus Andersen / Getty Images)

Activate the defensemen

The Bruins’ only Game 6 goal was with Swayman off for a sixth attacker. They had one five-on-five goal in Game 5. Woll and the Leafs are giving them nothing.

The defensemen, then, have to push the offensive pace.

McAvoy and Mason Lohrei are best equipped to join the rush, carry the puck and make plays in the offensive zone. They will have the green light to go more than usual. Throwing a fourth attacker into the mix often causes defensive confusion. But this will require the Bruins’ high forwards to be mindful about getting back for their defensemen.

“Lohrei-McAvoy created probably the most yesterday as a D pairing,” Montgomery said. “Just because they were more assertive, joining the play, creating a fourth man in the rush. They’ve just got to have ice balance. That’s not only them. It’s forwards covering for them. Because we want them on their toes.”

(Top photo of David Pastrnak and John Tavares: John E. Sokolowski / USA Today)

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