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Jim Montgomery rips Bruins, says team isn't ready for playoffs yet

Jim Montgomery rips Bruins, says team isn't ready for playoffs yet originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Boston Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery isn't happy with his team right now.

Not at all.

The Bruins gave a lackluster performance in a 5-2 loss to the New York Rangers last Thursday and then had plenty of chances to beat the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday before losing 3-2. Monday's practice didn't get off to the best start, either, prompting Montgomery to pause the session for sprints, along with a strong verbal message.

In his press conference after practice, Montgomery gave a harsh and candid assessment of his team's recent performance and its issues. It was probably the most critical he's been of this team since he took over as head coach in June of 2022.

“I hated the way we finished the game in Philly,” Montgomery told reporters. “It was a good hockey game, it was playoff intensity, physicality to it. And I don’t think I’ve done a good enough job of teaching the details and game management that we need. And then we weren’t prepared to practice today. So those things coupled together – not ready to start practice on time, guys not knowing what we’re supposed to be doing. Again, I take responsibility for it. There’s got to be some responsibility on the players, too.”

The Bruins are in the midst of their toughest road trip of the season. All six games, including the loss to the Flyers on Saturday, are matchups against opponents in a playoff spot or fighting for one. These teams all have something meaningful to play for. It's a great test for the Bruins as they try to improve their own game ahead of the postseason.

“I don’t think our team is ready yet for playoffs,” Montgomery admitted. “We’ve got to continue to get tested and we’re going to get tested.”

The Bruins have several lineup decisions to make before Game 1 of the playoffs, specifically in the bottom-six forward group and the third defense pairing. Montgomery is clearly looking for players who will play with an aggressive mentality and be physical.

“Who are the guys who are going to manage the game, manage the puck, protect the puck? Who’s going to win battles? Who’s going to be first on pucks? We saw some guys who didn’t want to be first on pucks last game,” Montgomery said.

Saying there were players "who didn't want to be first on pucks last game" is a pretty strong statement.

It'll be fascinating to see how the Bruins respond over the next two days, which includes a difficult back-to-back against the Panthers on Tuesday and the Lightning on Wednesday. Two great performances against quality opponents that result in wins could go a long way in helping the Bruins reach the playoffs firing on all cylinders.

The Bruins have the talent to win multiple rounds in the playoffs. There's a reason why they are tied for the second-best record in the league. But there are still issues -- most notably closing out games, getting clutch saves, special teams, scoring depth, etc. -- holding them back. There's enough time to fix these problems prior to the postseason, but that process needs to happen ASAP.