June 19, 2024

The Bruins won back-to-back games in Toronto pretty decisively, so conventional knowledge would’ve said to stick with what was working as the first-round Stanley Cup playoff series shifted back to Boston.

That’s now how Jim Montgomery saw it, however.

The Bruins head coach made a pair of lineup changes for Game 5 at TD Garden. Matt Grzelcyk, who hadn’t played since Game 2, replaced Kevin Shattenkirk on Boston’s third defensive pairing. Justin Brazeau, meanwhile, took John Beecher’s place on the fourth line and made his first appearance for the Black and Gold since April 2.

The lineup tweaks didn’t yield a positive outcome, as the Bruins fell 2-1 in overtime and allowed the Leafs to bring the best-of-seven set back to Toronto. Before the game, Montgomery explained the logic behind changing his lineup for a potential close-out game following back-to-back victories.

Bruins' Kevin Shattenkirk fined for unsportsmanlike conduct

“You don’t want to change things just to change things,” Montgomery told reporters, per The Athletic. “But if you think your team can get better because of matchups or because of history with players and where you think they might be best utilized to help the Bruins, that’s when you look at potentially making changes.”

Unfortunately for the B’s, the changes didn’t make them better. Grzelcyk wasn’t very assertive and his shaky defense on John Tavares in overtime led to the visitors’ game-winning goal. Brazeau played OK, especially given the circumstances, but taking out an effective face-off man like Beecher proved to be costly to Boston.

Montgomery now will go back to the drawing board and try to figure out what lineup will have the most success Thursday night when the Bruins try to finish off the Leafs again.

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