The Boston Bruins will play their first home game of the Jim Montgomery era on Saturday night against an opponent they have dominated for more than 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 road win against the Washington Capitals.
Montgomery was impressed with his team’s collective effort and attention to detail, but fully adjusting to the new technical style under the head coach will take time.
“You want guys to play creatively, you want them to play on their feet and not be afraid to make 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 execution these first few weeks.”
The Bruins have won 18 straight against Arizona, their longest streak against any opponent. Captain Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci played in Boston’s last loss in the series on October 9, 2010 in Prague.
The three Czechs formed a productive line on Wednesday, while David Pastrnak and Krejci combined for seven points along with rookie Pavel Zach (one assist).
Krejci played in the Czech Republic last season. It’s been 531 days since his last NHL goal.
“It was great to be with the guys and play 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 did it.”
Another Czech product, Jakub Lauko, had three goals and 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 late in the second half on Wednesday.
“He’s not eligible to play (Saturday),” Montgomery said. “But we think it will come back sooner than expected when it originally happened.”
Trent Frederic is expected to start in his place, while Jeremy Swayman starts in goal after Linus Ullmark earned the win in the season opener.
After losing Thursday’s opener 6-2 at Pittsburgh, the Coyotes visit Boston for the second leg of their six-game road trip. They won’t play at home until October 28th.
Dylan Guenther will make his NHL debut on Saturday. The Coyotes’ first-round pick in the 2021 draft will come after Nick Schmaltz was sidelined with an upper-body injury just 2:26 into his season.
“It’s surreal (to make the team out of training camp),” Guenther said. “You’re even playing in the preseason, putting on a jersey and playing against … guys you grew up watching, guys you watched even last year in the playoffs.”
On Thursday, former Bruin Nick Ritchie scored both of Arizona’s goals on the power play. Ritchie’s first score was 3-1 in the second period.
Ritchie has 12 goals in 25 games with the Coyotes last season. He played two of his four career high-scoring games with Arizona.
“Since I’ve been here, just a breath of fresh air, playing with some good guys,” Ritchie said. “A good look at a power play like this one definitely doesn’t hurt.”
Second-year NHL goaltender Karel Vejmelka made 21 of his 47 saves in the middle frame. It will be back on the grid on Saturday.
“We were better throughout the game, we never gave up, we came back and worked hard, but we have to … come out of the gate with more urgency mentally,” Coyotes coach Andre Tourigny said. “We have to be much more stingy defensively. (Vejmelka) was incredible. That’s why we have to work on our identity.”
– Media in the field