Bruins Coach Jim Montgomery said it is important for his team to find the balance between pushing too hard and wearing out, and playing it safe and losing. Charles Krupa/Associated Press

In the first four games of this five-game homestand, the Bruins have gotten off to leads of 2-0, 2-0, 1-0 and 4-0.

So why does it feel like their starts have been, well, kind of underwhelming?

That’s because they have been. The breakouts have too often been turned back on the first try, the Bruins haven’t gotten much going off the rush and they’ve needed a few good saves early on. And then when they’ve taken those leads, the opposition has found a way to get back into the game, perhaps letting the Bruins know those leads were not always hard-earned.

Coach Jim Montgomery is not overly concerned with it. His team is 25-4-2 and, in that four-game stretch the Bruins are 3-0-1. There is hardly a cause for panic.

But he does have his eye on it, and he sees a couple of reasons for it – one that’s hockey-related, another that’s human being-related.

“I think teams have done a really good job of scouting us and they’ve adjusted game plans. And I think a little bit of it is, we don’t start off well and then we get to our game for about 10 minutes and we get up 2-0. Earlier in the year, we kept our foot on the gas and kept going. Now we take the foot off the gas and kind of manage, it seems like,” said Montgomery after the Bruins optional practice on Tuesday.


“It’s also a little bit of the luxury that we have in how we’ve banked points. And it’s also that time of the year of the season where people are starting to think about family time. It happens. I don’t care if you’re 25-4 or 4-25. That’s natural. It’s human.”

The enviable situation the Bruins find themselves in as the current kings of the NHL hill is no doubt leading to some of the uneven nature of their play lately.

“We have such a good record, we have to expect every team to be excited to play us and bring their best, so I guess we’ve got to do a little better job (matching that),” said Connor Clifton, though he added motivation is still no problem. “We’re excited to come to the rink every day with these guys. We’ve got a special group and we know we’re having a special year. Obviously, it’s a long season and things have been going so well. I’m sure it’s not going to be like that for 82 games, but we’re going to do our jobs and try to show up each day.”

As for the aspect of the slow starts that relates to hockey, Montgomery believes the challenges that his team is seeing now will be good for it in the long run.

“It’s a combination of (the opposition) taking away the middle of the ice and also they’re having three and four back all the time,” said Montgomery. “We’re not getting the rush chances we were earlier in the year. We did end up moving pucks up walls and skating with it and leading to good entries. I think our first three goals were good entry goals (against Florida). And I think those are plays that would have happened at our blue line that are now happening at their blue line and that’s the evolution of our team. It’s good for us to go through this and find different ways to score.”

Montgomery said it’s taken some learning of his own not to push for a perfection that is unattainable.

“I think it’s a balance you develop. My second year as a head coach (in Dubuque of the USHL), we had a really good team and I pushed too hard with that group,” said Montgomery. “And I think I learned that if you’re trying to be perfect, you become very negative and then the players kind of start playing safe. And to me, safety is a good way of finding yourself on the wrong side of a lot of games. You can’t be safe.”

CRAIG SMITH, as was somewhat expected, was assigned to Providence after Monday’s game. The veteran winger had cleared waivers earlier in the day before playing in the Bruins 7-3 win over Florida. It sounds doubtful that the team will actually require him to report to the AHL as it’s mostly a cap management move.

“It’s roster flexibility,” said Montgomery. “I don’t know all the inner workings of it, but I know it’s something we needed to do for the roster flexibility that it gives us. As far as reporting to Providence, I don’t believe he is, but I don’t know for certain.”

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