The Boston Bruins will play the first home game of the Jim Montgomery era on Saturday night against an opponent they have dominated for over a decade in the Arizona Coyotes.
Boston returns to the ice for the first time since Wednesday, when it jumped out to a 3-0 lead and posted a pair of two-goal periods in a 5-2 season-opening win in the road against the Washington Capitals.
Montgomery was impressed with his team’s collective effort and attention to detail, but fully adjusting to a new technical style under the head coach will happen with time.
“You want guys to play with creativity, you want them to play on their toes and not be afraid of making mistakes,” Montgomery said. “We’ll get there on the X’s and O’s. Right now, it’s about playing with effort and emotion more than it is about execution in these first couple weeks.”
The Bruins have won 18 consecutive meetings with Arizona, their longest streak against any opponent. Captain Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci both played in Boston’s last loss in the series on Oct. 9, 2010, in Prague.
Three Czech natives formed a productive line on Wednesday as David Pastrnak and Krejci combined for seven points alongside newcomer Pavel Zacha (one assist).
Krejci played in Czechia last season. It had been 531 days since his last NHL goal.
“It was great just being around the guys and playing on an NHL rink against the best players in the world,” Krejci said. “I was excited and a little nervous at the same time, but I’m glad we got it done.”
Another Czech product, Jakub Lauko, logged three hits and drew two penalties in his NHL debut.
The Bruins, who will be without forward Brad Marchand and defenseman Charlie McAvoy for several more weeks, lost Jake DeBrusk to an upper-body injury later in the second period Wednesday.
“He’s not eligible to play (on Saturday),” Montgomery said. “But we think he’s going to be back sooner than expected when it originally happened.”
Trent Frederic is expected to draw into the lineup instead, while Jeremy Swayman starts in goal after Linus Ullmark earned the season-opening win.
After losing 6-2 in Thursday’s opener at Pittsburgh, the Coyotes visit Boston for the second leg of their six-game road trip. They won’t play at home until Oct. 28.
Dylan Guenther will make his NHL debut on Saturday. The Coyotes’ 2021 first-round draft pick will slot in after Nick Schmaltz was sidelined with an upper-body injury just 2:26 into his season.
“It’s surreal (making the team out of training camp),” Guenther said. “Even playing in the preseason, you’re putting on the jersey and playing against … guys who you grew up watching, guys who you watched even this past year in the playoffs.”
On Thursday, former Bruin Nick Ritchie scored both Arizona goals on the power play. Ritchie’s first tally made it a 3-1 game in the second period.
Ritchie has 12 goals in 25 games with the Coyotes dating back to last season. Two of his four career multi-goal games have come with Arizona.
“Since I’ve come over, just a breath of fresh air, playing with some good guys,” Ritchie said. “Getting some good looks on the power play like that definitely doesn’t hurt anything.”
Second-year NHL goalie Karel Vejmelka made 21 of his 47 saves in the middle frame. He will be back in net Saturday.
“We got better during the game, never quit, came back and worked hard, but we need to … get out of the gate with more urgency mentally,” Coyotes coach Andre Tourigny said. “We need to be way more stingy defensively. (Vejmelka) was unbelievable. So we need to work on our identity.”
–Field Level Media