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Bruins start play-offs with McAvoy, Lindholm together on top pair

Boston’s two workhorses fit well together. McAvoy is a puck logger who pushes the pace and takes offensive chances. Lindholm is more of a stay-at-home type, but will also destroy the puck. Both are physical defenders, with McAvoy known for his big hits and Lindholm known for his ability to wear down attackers.

“Yeah, he’s a great player,” Lindholm said Saturday morning after Boston’s short morning skate. “I think we can feed off each other pretty well. He’s a good skater who gets up in a hurry and makes plays, making time for shooters to jump up and create some offense as well. And of course also shutting down a number of boys.’

The Bruins used a shutdown pair during their last run to a Stanley Cup title, then Zdeno Chara And Dennis Seidenberg worked together to punish puck carriers at every turn. Montgomery would love to duplicate that duo’s work, but will also be quick to make changes when necessary.

“It’s good to have two really good defenders playing there, and who knows? We are very flexible. We moved our defenders everywhere,” Montgomery said. “We can use Lindholm at home McAvoy, with Carlo, with (Andrew) Peeke. We can use McAvoy with (Matt Grzelcyk), with Lindholm, with Peeke. Carlo has played with everyone.

“So just because they fit together doesn’t mean they’ll play the whole game together.”

Both McAvoy and Lindholm play in all situations, although the latter’s power play time is limited as Montgomery prefers to save his legs for the penalty kick.

McAvoy said he always saw himself as a versatile player who played big minutes.

“Absolutely. That’s my job. I thrive on that. I take a lot of pride in being able to play all situations in a lot of minutes,” said McAvoy, who said he idolized Kings All-Star. Drew Doughy despite growing up as a Rangers fan. “Watching (Doughty) play all those big minutes and be an excellent defender for (Los Angeles). And that was always my goal.

“That was the dream and what I wanted to build for, but (first) you just want to make it to the NHL. And then you get to the NHL and now it’s like, I want to be that guy. That’s where I want to rise. I want to take a lot of responsibility for my team.”

Hoping for a power-up

Montgomery stuck with his new power play units David Pastrnak, Pavel Zacha, Danton Heinen, Pat MaroonAnd Kevin Shattenkirk on the de facto top device, while Brad Marchand, Charlie Coyle, Morgan Geekie, Jake De Bruskand McAvoy skated on the 1B team.

McAvoy and Marchand were in the 1A unit all season, but the coach didn’t get the feeling there were any bruised egos about the new lineup.

“The great thing about the Bruins is that the leaders will do whatever is best for the Bruins,” Montgomery said. “If they think having two units of one minute each gives us the pace and purpose to be successful, they’re all for it.”

JVR is the odd one out

Johnny Beecher inserted on the fourth line with Jesper Boqvist And Pat Maroonwho left James van Riemsdyk as the healthy scratch… Ditto for defender Parker WotherspoonDerek Forbort did not practice but was spotted at Warrior Arena a day after the veteran defenseman suited up for Providence. Forbort, who recently underwent two surgeries, is “taking the right steps,” Montgomery said. There’s a possibility he could return at some point in these playoffs… Mason Lohrei was sent back to Providence and the rookie defenseman was scheduled to be in the Baby Bs lineup on Saturday… Song of the Night: “Higher Love,” by Kygo And Whitney Houston.


Jim McBride can be reached at [email protected]. follow him @globejimmcbride.