MONTREAL — Born and raised a Montrealer and bilingual, Jim Montgomery spent most of his Tuesday morning answering questions in French during his day-of-game media session.
Montgomery, 53, said he came to the old Forum only once or twice a season when he was a kid. Some of those years included the last great Habs dynasty when Les Glorieux rattled off four straight Stanley Cup titles, 1976-79.
“My best memory was the ‘76 Finals,” he recalled. “I got to go to Game 1 and Guy Lapointe scored the game-winning goal, 4-3, over the Flyers … about four minutes left when he scored, if my memory serves correct.”
Decades later, Montgomery returned to Montreal as coach of the hottest team in hockey, his Bruins (38-5-4 with Tuesday night’s 4-2 win) outpacing the 1976-77 Habs team that finished with what stands as the best regular season record (60-8-12) in league history.
“I think how dominant we are at both ends of the ice,” said Montgomery, asked if he could draw any parallels between today’s Bruins and the Canadiens of 1976-77. “We can score. We can win, 6-5. We can win, 1-0. I think that’s the parallel.”
That Canadiens team, recalled Montgomery, had three “dominant” defensemen — Larry Robinson, Serge Savard, and Lapointe — while the current edition of the Black and Gold has a pair in Charlie McAvoy and Hampus Lindholm.
“And when you have an elite D corps,” Montgomery added, “you can really control the play at both ends of the ice. That’s the biggest comparable as I see it.”
The Canadiens dynasty, noted a Boston reporter, had a 43-year-old Scotty Bowman behind the bench.
“Yeah,” said a smiling Montgomery, the French press corps erupting in laughter, “the Canadiens coaching was much better.”
The Bruins on Tuesday called up former Boston College forward Marc McLaughlin from AHL Providence, largely because they learned over the weekend that Tomas Nosek will be sidelined for a month or more with a cracked bone in his left foot.
McLaughlin, 23, played 39 games with the WannaBs prior to his promotion. He cobbled together a line of 7-10–17.
A right shot, McLaughlin in his brief time with the varsity (11 games, 3-0–3) last season showed he is comfortable at center or wing, allowing Montgomery to consider him in various roles over the four remaining stops of the five-game trip.
The lineup here was the same that started in Sunday’s 4-0 whitewashing of the Sharks at the Garden. The only change was in net, where Jeremy Swayman (20 saves) got the win after his one-save relief appearance Sunday when he took when Linus Ullmark needed some pit crew work to replace his lost skateblade.
Mother knows best
Montgomery said he had numerous friends and family members in the building. “Unfortunately, my 90-year-old mom can’t deal with the stairs,” he said. “So she’ll watch at home and critique me after it’s over.” It took until Tuesday, game No. 47, for the Bruins to play their first game this season vs. the Canadiens. One of the sport’s greatest rivalries barely gets a chance to simmer and boil any more in a 32-team NHL. “It is unfortunate,” said Montgomery. “You get to January and you’d hope that you already played the Canadiens a couple of times. But everybody wants to see everybody, right? Everybody wants to see [Connor] McDavid and everybody wants to see [Sidney] Crosby and all the great players, including our players.”... Jake DeBrusk, who banged up a hand and leg in the Jan. 2 Winter Classic, resumed skating this week. Per Montgomery, it remains a possibility that the 26-year-old winger will get in a game toward the end of the trip, but odds are better that he’ll remain shut down, keep building back his strength, and return for the Feb. 11 matinee vs. the Capitals at the Garden … Even the world’s best have some rough patches. Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron — a.k.a. Patrice the Thief — was 0 for 8 on faceoffs in the first period. Canadiens center Nick Suzuki went 8 for 9 at the dot in the opening 20 minutes. Bergeron turned it around dramatically, winning 10 of 15 draws over the remaining two periods … David Pastrnak led all 36 skaters with 15 shot attempts, seven of which made it to the net. Suzuki led the Habs with four shots … The Canadiens were guilty of 22 giveaways (to 10 by the Bruins). Lots of work to do by the Habs, in all three zones … It was the fourth time this season that Pastrnak finished with 4 points. He also went 1-3–4 against the Capitals on opening night … Nick Foligno led both sides with five hits, including a couple of bone crushers … The Bruins hustled out of town postgame for their charter flight south. They face the Lightning Thursday night in Tampa and then the sagging Panthers Saturday night in Sunrise. Following their stop Sunday night in Raleigh, N.C., they’ll zip home for a practice Tuesday in Brighton and then finish off their pre-All Star schedule Wednesday night in Toronto.
Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at email@example.com.