Close fight at Jack-Adams between Montgomery and Ruff -.

Boston Bruins coach Jim Montgomery and New Jersey Devils manager Lindy Ruff are head-to-head after a vote by NHL.com members to determine the most deserving coaches of the year.

Both drivers had 44 points, but Montgomery has a slight edge with five first-place votes to Ruff’s four, and he fully deserves it. The Bruins are first in the overall NHL standings and have only suffered three losses (17-3-0) since the start of the season.

What’s even more impressive is that Boston has sustained such performance while being deprived of two mainstays early in the season. the attacker merchant brad made his debut on Oct. 27 after undergoing offseason surgery on both hips, while Charlie McAvoy, the Bruins’ No. 1 defenseman, made his first game on November 10 after undergoing shoulder surgery. This is without counting the absence of the defender matt grzelcyk, who missed the first four games of the season. He also underwent surgery to treat a shoulder injury.

“I want us to be recognized throughout the league as a team that you have to be prepared for, otherwise you’re going to be playing on the heels,” Montgomery warned when he was hired last July. “From now on, I hope to improve some aspects by introducing a different style, each coach has a different way of leading, and I hope that leads to a little more attacking. »

Montgomery can say mission accomplished. The Bruins lead the NHL in almost every category. They are first in goals scored per game average (4.05), first in goals against (2.25), third in power play performance (30.3 percent) and second in outnumbered efficiency (85, 7).

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It would be a fine show of resilience on Montgomery’s part if he managed to carve his name into the Jack-Adams. The 53-year-old battled an alcohol addiction while managing the Dallas Stars, and on December 10, 2019, the organization fired him for allegedly unprofessional conduct. He took on the demons of him after him, and the Bruins are now reaping the rewards of giving him a second chance.

Video: [email protected]: Bergeron scores the 1000th point of his career

But Ruff’s candidacy is as developed as Montgomery’s. Hired ahead of the 2020-21 season, the 62-year-old has made the Devils’ rebuild a success. New Jersey (16-4-0) is just two points behind the Bruins in the standings, and the team has won 13 straight, tying a franchise record.

“We’re kind of a target right now,” Ruff said Monday. We have to expect the best from each team because we earn respect. You have to deal with that part. But after 19 games, we cannot say that we have sent a message to the rest of the League. We have to keep playing intense hockey. We need to continue to practice our style of play and show the league that our success can continue. »

The Devils haven’t made the Stanley Cup playoffs since the 2017-18 season, but that streak could end this year. Under Ruff, the key players in rebuilding New Jersey took off. jack hughes21, has established himself as one of the NHL’s top young talents with 77 points in 69 games since the start of the 2021-22 season. Jesper steep24, is tied for 13th in NHL scoring (24) and Nico Hischier23, is becoming one of the most complete centre-backs in the League.

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Video: [email protected]: Hughes takes advantage of a turnover and scores

The Devils are fourth in goals scored average (3.70), second in goals against (2.30) and seventh in poor performance (82.1 percent).

“His way of delivering his message every day drives the team forward,” Devils associate coach Andrew Brunette said. “You can feel his passion. It blends with his love for his players. He does well with both sides of the coin, that is, he is demanding, but also stimulating. »

Vegas Golden Knights coach Bruce Cassidy completes the podium. Fired by the Bruins in June and hired eight days later by Vegas, the 57-year-old allowed his people to bounce back. The Golden Knights (16-4-1) missed the playoffs for the first time in club history last season and are second overall in the NHL standings this season, when many saw them as the portrait of the series outside of the Serie.

Ruff (2006 with the Buffalo Sabres) and Cassidy (2020 with the Bruins) have each won the Jack-Adams once.

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