When it comes to naming a coach for the Atlantic Division All-Star team, Jim Montgomery ran away with the honors during the 2022-23 season. The head coaching spot for each Division team in the All-Star Game is allocated to the head coach of the team with the highest points percentage in each division. In his first season with the team, the Boston Bruins’ bench boss has coached his group of players to a 32-4-4 record. The Bruins are far and away the best team in the NHL with a .850 points percentage (P%) – the next closest team has a .695 P% at the time of this writing.
The Bruins have also scored the most goals (156 compared to the next-most at 152), and allowed the fewest goals against (88 compared to the next fewest at 108), have a goal-differential of plus-68, which is substantially better than the next-best team (plus-35), and have yet to lose a home game in regulation (19-0-3).
While there are other very good coaches in the NHL and even more specifically in the Atlantic Division, the decision to name Montgomery as the coach of the Atlantic Division was about as easy a decision as it gets in professional sports. This Bruins’ team has defied all expectations heading into the season and are the clear-cut favorites to win the Stanley Cup and it’s hard to ignore the influence Montgomery has had on his team both on the ice and off the ice.
The Bruins have responded to Montgomery and have put on a historic run this season. A big part of their success has also come courtesy of goaltender Linus Ullmark, who is having an all-time season between the pipes in Boston. Ullmark has put together a 21-1-1 record, with a 1.87 goals-against average and .938 save percentage and will join Montgomery at the All-Star Game due to the season he’s put together. No goaltender in the NHL has been better than Ullmark this season and he’s worth every shred of recognition he’ll get as a result.
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While Montgomery has been excellent in Boston this season, it would be almost inappropriate to not mention just how well the Bruins’ last head coach is doing elsewhere in the NHL.
Bruce Cassidy Named Pacific Division All-Star Coach
Bruce Cassidy didn’t take long to land on his feet after being fired from the Bruins during the offseason in a wildly unpopular move that had fans scratching their heads. The Vegas Golden Knights swooped in and saw what Cassidy could do for their team, and the results have spoken for themselves. The Golden Knights are 27-13-2 and have 56 points, good for first place in the Pacific Division. Though they may not be putting together as dominant a season as the Bruins, the Golden Knights are still a top-five team in the NHL and are just one point out of second place in the entire league. Cassidy was and still is a tremendous head coach in the NHL and he was also rewarded for his efforts by being named the coach of the Pacific Division All-Star team.
In some situations, it’s hard to look at a player, a coach or otherwise leave town and do well. In this particular instance, though, both the Bruins and Golden Knights have been thriving as a result of the change and though the decision to move on from Cassidy will never be a popular one, nor one that makes a whole lot of sense, it’s one that appears to have worked well for everyone involved. Montgomery is a fan-favorite in Boston, just as Cassidy was, and the results are clearly speaking for themselves. The same can be said about Cassidy, who has won over the hearts of fans in Vegas thanks to his winning ways.
The Bruins and Golden Knights split their season series already this season and won’t meet up again unless they match up in the Stanley Cup Final. This means that the All-Star Game may be the last time fans of either club can hope to see Montgomery face off with Cassidy this season until potentially May or June. This game, of course, will mean far less than the games in the Stanley Cup Final would, but it will still be fun nonetheless.
The 2023 NHL All-Star Game will take place Saturday, Feb. 4 in Sunrise, Florida and will be a good opportunity for the rest of the Bruins’ squad to get some well-deserved rest and recover from any lingering ailments that may be causing them discomfort.