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The Leafs have a suddenly hot goaltender to solve for B’s

Boston Bruins center Trent Frederic (11) evades the bulk of Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Joseph Woll (60), who makes the stop as the Bruins take on the Maple Leafs in game 5 of the first round of the playoffs at the Garden on April 30. (Staff photo by Stuart Cahill/Boston Herald)

As this first-round series shifts to Toronto for Game 6 and the pressure mounts on the Bruins, it’s now the B’s turn to try to answer that age-old playoff question.

How do we solve that goalkeeper?

Through the first five games, it was the Maple Leafs trying to figure out Jeremy Swayman, who won his first three starts in this series and put the B’s on the line for a 3-1 series. But while Swayman was just as good as he was in the previous three, he didn’t get the W in Game 5.

That went to the Leafs’ Joseph Woll, who got his first start of the series after Ilya Samsonov’s tendency to allow bad goals at the wrong time put the Leafs in their hole.

And Woll (27 saves) was spectacular at times. Despite the B’s terribly poor start, they had a 12-5 lead on big danger chances, two of which stood out. With 7:20 left in regulation time, Trent Frederic’s brilliant chance was noted. And then, early in extra time, he flashed his notepad to prevent another big chance from Charlie Coyle.

If either player raised the puck, this series would be over. But they didn’t, and we keep playing. And now the B’s face a goaltender who must be feeling pretty good about himself.

That’s not what the B’s are looking for.

Frederic knows Woll like no other. Both are St. Louis area products who grew up together. In fact, as a child, Frederic was the starting goalkeeper for his travel team when he was unable to attend one of his team tournaments in Toronto due to his first communion. The team turned to Woll and Frederic got Wally Pipped as goalkeeper.

“He’s probably the most consistent teammate I’ve had in my life,” said Frederic, who also played with Woll in the U.S. national team program. “He’s a good kid and it’s nice to see him get this opportunity. But of course we want to beat him (Thursday).”

The two have fun back and forth and Frederic likes to point out that he is now going “8-for-9” against him in matches where he has scored goals against his good friend, going back to high school. That includes Game 5, when Frederic was the only player to beat him before Woll stoned him in the third period.

Although he knows Woll well, Frederic said there is no secret sauce to beating him that you wouldn’t say about any other goalkeeper.

“We definitely need to create more, but I think we need to be more in front of him,” Frederic said. “All these goaltenders are really good when they can see the puck all the way. Our goalie (Jeremy Swayman) is really good and he doesn’t see the first goal. He has no chance at the second goal. That’s exactly how goals are scored in the NHL and especially in the playoffs. I think he’s seen pretty much (everything). He never made saves where he never saw it. He played very well. I’m not taking anything from him. But in that sense we just didn’t do well enough.”

It has been a story of two seasons for Woll. He started off well, posting a 13-8-5 record with a .916 save percentage and 2.80 GAA, until suffering an ankle injury in early December that cost him nearly three months of playing time. When he returned, his record was fair (10-4-6), but his save percentage was .890 and GAA was 3.14.

The B’s are hoping he isn’t able to build much of a third chapter in the playoffs….

For the second year in a row, coach Jim Montgomery is under fire for some of his personnel decisions in the playoffs. Last year one of the problems was holding on to a broken Linus Ullmark for too long. This year he takes the lead as he changed his lineup after two wins, inserting Matt Grzelcyk and Justin Brazeau for Kevin Shattenkirk and John Beecher. Grzelcyk was on the ice for the Leafs’ OT game winner and Beecher might have helped in the faceoff department. They lost 16 of 20 draws in an early period in which they were dominated.

“There are a lot of discussions going on and ultimately I make the decision that I really felt was best for the Boston Bruins,” Montgomery said. “And if it doesn’t work out, I understand. (The heat) comes with the territory. I’m going to have doubts. And third and fourth guessed. Rightly so. It comes with the territory. Just like when you make changes and things work out. It is the same. But I know I’m comfortable with the decisions I’ve made and why I’ve made them.”

After the B’s scored a power-play goal in Game 4 with the old top-heavy first PP unit together, Montgomery decided to go for it again on their only chance in Game 5. It yielded zero shots.

“We just felt like it worked well in Game 4 and that it would be natural to do it at the same time in the game without anyone knowing. But it didn’t feel natural. It felt like a discombobulation. It looked like it,” he said.

Most players were eager to keep last season when they blew a 3-1 lead to the Panthers in the rearview mirror, at least publicly. Montgomery looks at it differently.

“I have no problem talking about last year. Because if you fail or have failures in life and don’t learn from them, you can repeat things,” Montgomery said. “And for me it’s picking yourself back up and talking and being honest with each other about where we are and how we can be better. To me, it’s the same as not preparing for a math test and blowing it. Then you prepare for a math test and learn how to prepare for success. For us and what we are going through now, it is no different.”

That doesn’t mean he’s following Game 5 closely.

“I’m still angry. Just be honest,” Montgomery said. “I don’t understand it and I don’t accept our play of (Game 5). So I’ll be pissed until the puck drops (Thursday).”…

What moves he makes for Game 6 remains to be seen, but he sounded open to the idea of ​​Shattenkirk and/or Beecher returning.

“Beecher and Shatty, especially me, have always responded when they come back into the lineup with a really good effort, so that gives you confidence to put them back in the lineup,” Montgomery said…

Andrew Peeke (foot) has been skating for the past few days, but Montgomery said he is “away for a few weeks.”