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Boston Bruins

Boston Bruins

Apr 21, 2023; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Boston Bruins center Charlie Coyle (13) celebrates with left wing Brad Marchand (63) after scoring during the second period against the Florida Panthers in game three of the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at FLA Live Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

With major changes come risk. But on Friday night in Florida, Jim Montgomery’s gamble cashed in.

The Boston Bruins head coach made a major shakeup throughout the lineup for Game 3 against the Panthers, including a last-minute change after David Krejci became a late scratch. It resulted in easily their best all-around performance of the series so far, at both ends of the ice.

The changes to the forward groups, in particular, made a huge difference and paid off on the scoreboard. It showed off their elite depth, as they dominated much of the game despite missing both Krejci and Patrice Bergeron. It also echoed recent comments by Brad Marchand about the Bruins’ versatility and ability to win in a variety of ways.

“Definitely a little bit of adversity, there, but we’ve been through that all year long,” Marchand said in a postgame interview. “It started from day one. We’ve always had that ‘next man up’ mentality. It just gives someone else an opportunity to step up and rise to the occasion. We had that tonight. [Charlie] Coyle had a huge game, Hallsy [Taylor Hall] had a huge effort, and Fliggy [Nick Foligno] had a huge goal for us at the end.

“That’s how we win, it’s by committee. It’s tough to have guys out, but like I said, it just gives everyone else an opportunity to step up.”

  • Coyle slid up to the No. 1 center role, centering Marchand and Jake DeBrusk. Coyle earned the promotion, as arguably the team’s best all-around forward through the first two games of the series. The Bruins out-shot the Panthers 12-7 with Coyle on the ice at 5-on-5, and 1-0 on the scoreboard thanks to Coyle’s deflection goal in the second period.

    The centerman used his size and strength to gain inside ice on the Panthers’ Aleksander Barkov, and Brad Marchand bought time with the puck before finding the right angle to shoot for Coyle’s stick area. Coyle did the rest with his hand-eye, fluttering the puck up and over goaltender Alex Lyon.

    Coyle’s performance left his teammates amusingly impressed.

    “He’s just a man. It’s a weird compliment but it’s what it is,” said Nick Foligno.

    “He’s an animal, through and through,” added Linus Ullmark.

    It’s a safe bet that the Marchand-Coyle-DeBrusk stays together for Game 4. It’s on the Panthers to adjust to them.

    Apr 21, 2023; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Florida Panthers center Aleksander Barkov (16) and Boston Bruins center Charlie Coyle (13) face-off during the first period in game three of the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at FLA Live Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

    Apr 21, 2023; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Florida Panthers center Aleksander Barkov (16) and Boston Bruins center Charlie Coyle (13) face-off during the first period in game three of the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at FLA Live Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

  • Montgomery’s other big change was to move Pavel Zacha down to No. 2 center between Tyler Bertuzzi and David Pastrnak, restoring a trio that was extremely productive down the stretch of the regular season. The Bruins out-shot the Panthers 9-5 at 5-on-5 with that forward line on the ice, and also outscored them 1-0 with Pastrnak’s second goal of the series.

  • The third line shuffle that paid off was partly out of necessity, as Krejci’s last-second scratch moved Foligno back in as the right wing with left wing Taylor Hall and Trent Frederic at center. Hall scored the game’s first goal just 2:26 into the game and et up Foligno at the net-front for their fourth score of the night in the third period.

  • On defense, the changes made the biggest difference for Dmitry Orlov, who grabbed two assists on a pair of sharp stretch passes that set up goals by Hall and Pastrnak. There was no question that the Bruins also needed to clean up their play on the backend, and it looks like the tweaks worked there, as well.

    But the forward shake-up was striking, due to the sheer number of changes and how well it came together for every group. Montgomery stuck to his word that the Bruins would take a serious look at what went wrong in Game 2 and look to change a lot for Game 3.

    Such decisions had a chance to blow up in Montgomery’s face, especially since the B’s were headed on the road with the Panthers gaining momentum after Game 2. But the new mix went decidedly in the right direction for the Bruins, and now forces the Panthers to make big adjustments of their own to avoid going down in a 3-1 hole.

    “We saw Boston Bruins hockey today,” Montgomery said. “Tonight, we didn’t have any passengers.”

    SUNRISE, FL - APRIL 21: Teammates congratulate Charlie Coyle #13 of the Boston Bruins after he scored a second period goal against the Florida Panthers in Game Three of the First Round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the FLA Live Arena on April 21, 2023 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

    SUNRISE, FL – APRIL 21: Teammates congratulate Charlie Coyle #13 of the Boston Bruins after he scored a second period goal against the Florida Panthers in Game Three of the First Round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the FLA Live Arena on April 21, 2023 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

  • The Bruins and Panthers will get back to it on Sunday afternoon at FLA Live Arena for Game 4. Puck drop is expected at 3:30 p.m. ET.

    Click here for complete Boston Bruins coverage at 985TheSportsHub.com.

    Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @realmattdolloff. Check out all of Matt’s content here.

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