BOSTON — The Boston Bruins had wiped out a 2-0 third-period deficit. They were less than three minutes away from gaining at least one point against the Carolina Hurricanes.
So the fact that Hampus Lindholm pinched down to the left faceoff dot in pursuit of a David Pastrnak rebound was not an act of prudence. Given the situation, Lindholm should have held his ground and lived to fight another day.
Best intentions, poor consequences.
Brent Burns’ indirect pass off the right-side boards trapped Lindholm up the ice. Brandon Carlo, Lindholm’s partner and the lone defenseman back, tried to deter Sebastian Aho at the red line. But when the Hurricanes gained puck control and sprung Jordan Martinook, there was nobody home to contain the Carolina veteran. Martinook’s breakaway goal was the difference in the Bruins’ 3-2 loss at TD Garden.
The Boston Marty Party pic.twitter.com/yYgDZX0lCq
— Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) January 25, 2024
“The game management bothers me at the end,” said coach Jim Montgomery. “You’ve got to know you’ve done a great job. We’ve tied it up, 2-2. We don’t need to force anything. Points are valuable. It’s a good lesson for us moving into the playoffs. The momentum’s on our side. It’s 2-2. The crowd’s into it. The Garden’s buzzing. But you can’t lose our position and give up a breakaway.”
The NHL rewards results. The Bruins did not get any.
But if there was any consolation in their loss, it was Montgomery’s discovery of Trent Frederic as a temporary first-liner.
Montgomery has been pleased with his No. 1 line of Pastrnak, Brad Marchand and Charlie Coyle. But the second-year coach is not one to let his lines linger in punchless games. All four of the Bruins’ lines failed to produce through two periods.
So Montgomery put Pastrnak on the second line with Pavel Zacha and Jake DeBrusk. Frederic, who had started the night as the No. 3 right wing, earned the first-line promotion.
“There wasn’t much going on,” Montgomery said. “I thought Frederic was skating well. That’s why I moved him up there. Put Pasta with Zacha because that’s worked before. Put JD there so there was a speed and physical element on every line.”
It did not take long for Frederic to make an impact.
On their first shift, the new-look No. 1 line put two quick shots on net. Spencer Martin turned Frederic and Coyle aside. But Frederic stayed in the fight. He went below the goal line, won a puck from Brett Pesce and pushed a pass across the crease. Marchand slithered free for a backdoor slam dunk, making it a 2-1 game.
Brad put us on the board. pic.twitter.com/8IHVgpmTxq
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) January 25, 2024
The 6-foot-3, 220-pound Frederic has the beef to win board battles and overpower smaller defensemen. He also skates well enough to make plays in open ice.
Later in the third, Frederic raced the puck down the left wing into the offensive zone. Frederic floated a far-post pass that Coyle deflected on net. Martin stoned Coyle. But Marchand found the rebound and tucked it in for his second strike, tying the game at 2-2.
And it’s all tied up ©️ pic.twitter.com/L61ZhU1hoa
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) January 25, 2024
“That faceoff goal they scored was all him,” Montgomery said of the tying marker. “Just carrying the puck, attacking the middle, making a great play with Charlie Coyle and getting the puck to the net. Trent Frederic’s a real confident player. He’s playing real good hockey for us now. It’s been a long time. He’s earned and deserved the ice time he’s getting.”
In previous years, Frederic was strictly a depth player. But all of his qualities — straight-line speed, power, wall work, the ability to play all three forward positions — are making him a go-to for Montgomery. He played 14:41 at even strength, most of any forward.
“He’s done this a couple times now where you shuffle the lines,” said Frederic. “It’s nice playing with those guys. Marsh has got 900 points in this league. Chucky’s not far behind. Just try to get those guys the puck.”
Montgomery likes how Frederic and Morgan Geekie’s down-low heaviness gives the Bruins a dependable depth duo. But Frederic’s role is not permanent. He can steer the way Montgomery deploys him based on his skating and game situation. Frederic has top-six stuff.
“He’s been phenomenal this year,” Marchand said. “He’s taken another big step, the way he’s competing and moving his feet and holding onto pucks. You can see his confidence right now. He’s seeing the ice really well. He’s not scared to hold on and make that extra play. It’s paying off. He did a great job setting up both those goals.”
(Photo: Bob DeChiara / USA Today)