Boston Bruins

Jim Montgomery’s training camp plan for the Bruins to have a goal-hunting defense corps has kicked it up a notch of late.

To say the least.

With goals from Hampus Lindholm and Charlie McAvoy in Sunday’s blowout win over the Sharks, the B’s have seen a goal from their backend in five straight games. It’s their longest such streak of defensive scoring since Mar. 2014. Almost nine years! And it’s also helping set the tone for a Boston club that looks straight-up unstoppable these days.

“I don’t know if we gave up an odd-man rush that way, but I thought our best defense was our O-zone possession game,” Montgomery said after the victory. “And I thought our defensemen kept a lot of pucks alive, being really aggressive. And all I know is it’s great to have an elite D corps like we do, led by Lindholm and McAvoy, who scored two unbelievable goals to get us going. I thought they led us tonight with our intensity and our puck-possession game.”

Here are the 98.5 The Sports Hub (dot com) 3 Stars of the game from another triumph at TD Garden…

  • No. 3 Star: Joona Koppanen

    BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - JANUARY 12: Joona Koppanen #45 of the Boston Bruins skates against the Seattle Kraken in his first NHL game during the first period at TD Garden on January 12, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – JANUARY 12: Joona Koppanen #45 of the Boston Bruins skates against the Seattle Kraken in his first NHL game during the first period at TD Garden on January 12, 2023. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

  • A foot injury expected to sideline fourth-line anchor Tomas Nosek for at least four weeks has thrown Joona Koppanen back into the fire of NHL competition. And while the assignments will only get harder, NHL game No. 3 for Koppanen came with more success than struggles for the 6-foot-5 Koppanen.

    Centering Boston’s fourth line with A.J. Greer and Nick Foligno on his wings, Koppanen was deployed for 13:35 of action, and recorded the secondary helper on Foligno’s second-period marker for his first career point.

    But the first career point was just half the story for Koppanen in this one, really, as he also added a team-leading four hits and won seven of his nine battles at the faceoff dot.

    The Bruins will need a whole lot more of that as they embark on this upcoming four-game road swing.

  • No. 2 Star: Hampus Lindholm

    Jan 22, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins defenseman Hampus Lindholm (27) reacts after scoring a goal during the first period against the San Jose Sharks at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports

    Jan 22, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins defenseman Hampus Lindholm (27) reacts after scoring a goal during the first period against the San Jose Sharks at TD Garden. (Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports)

  • Bruins defenseman Hampus Lindholm wasted absolutely no time in this contest.

    On the board with the game-opening marker at the seven-minute mark of play, the top-shelf rocket through the Sharks’ James Reimer was the start of a night that included one goal and one assist along with a team-leading 23:35 of time on ice. It was a classic box score-stuffing night for Lindholm, really, as the 6-foot-4 Swede also added a plus-2 rating, two hits, two blocked shots, and two takeaways by the night’s end.

  • With the two-point effort, Lindholm is now up to 31 points on the campaign, putting him three points away from matching his career-high of 34 set in 2014-15.

    Leaguewide, Lindholm’s 31 points are tied for the 15th-most among all NHL defensemen this season, while his plus-33 rating is tops in the league, and a good four marks ahead of second-best Ryan Graves and his plus-29.

    (Is there any doubt that this has been Don Sweeney’s best trade?)

  • No. 1 Star: Charlie McAvoy

    Jan 22, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; San Jose Sharks center Logan Couture (39) controls the puck away from Boston Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy (73) during the second period at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports

    Jan 22, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; San Jose Sharks center Logan Couture (39) controls the puck away from Boston Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy (73) during the second period at TD Garden. (Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports)

  • Uh oh. It would appear that Charlie McAvoy has found his game.

    In what’s been a slow build of sorts since returning to action from his offseason shoulder surgery — something that you’ve seen Brad Marchand and Matt Grzelcyk go through as well in their returns from their offseason surgeries — it feels like January has quickly become McAvoy’s coming out party.

    And Sunday was the surprise party for three Sharks who got straight-up danced and pantsed by McAvoy on the Black and Gold’s second goal of the night at TD Garden.

  • My goodness.

    “Yeah, that felt good,” McAvoy said after the win. “I got a little lucky with it going off my shin pad and back to me, but I thought they were kind of flat-footed [and] I had some speed, so I was going to try and just wiggle through there and it all worked out.”

    But McAvoy’s offensive-zone wizardry didn’t stop there, as he had a downright sick dish to David Pastrnak for the B’s fourth goal of the affair, which was downright mean to the Sharks all things considered.

    For McAvoy, it was his third multi-point effort in his last four games, and brought the Norris hopeful up to 29 points in 33 games since returning to the B’s lineup.