On Tuesday night, after a 4-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues, the Boston Bruins head coach was even more candid than usual when accessing his team’s performance. Cassidy used the term ” selfish” when discussing the Bruins’ power-play struggles and was irritated with the team’s lack of “intelligent hockey” that caused unnecessary turnovers, which resulted in two Blues’ goals. And Cassidy’s disappointment level with Trent Frederic’s ill-advised penalty that resulted in a Torey Krug game-tying power-play goal for the Blues was “very high”.
After that loss, the ensuing practice included more intensity from the coach as the team’s stubbornness was called out. To that point, the team had lost two in a row and was the only team in the National Hockey League that had yet to lose three straight. The feeling was that the Bruins were focused on righting the ship on Thursday night against Ottawa, a team playing out the string.
The game started out as predicted, with the Bruins taking a 2-0 lead into the first intermission. However, goalie Linus Ullmark left the game between periods after taking a shot to the mask, and it was downhill from there. The backup goalie gave up a goal on his first shot, and the Bruins proceeded to lose the lead and eventually the game, 3-2. The power play continued to struggle (now 0 for their last 23), and the top two lines could not produce offensively.
You would expect Cassidy to lose his cool and for frustration to boil over after the game. However, Cassidy said that frustration was a “useless emotion” and that he wanted to correct things going forward. Cassidy mentioned a lack of focus, which included on the bench as Boston committed two delays of game penalties, one of them late in the third. The Bruins coach, in his sixth season with Boston, also thought the team put Swayman in a bad spot with the surprise substitution and penalties that caused the Bruins to be short-handed.
Overall, Cassidy seemed calmer and more reflective in his postgame comments. Maybe it was the bench minors that caused him to change his demeanor and realize that frustration will, in fact, not be productive. Or perhaps it was the realization that the team can not sustain good hockey against good teams without the likes of David Pastrnak, Hampus Lindholm, and Brandon Carlo in the lineup. It will be hard for the Bruins to find success if they continue to lose key players during games to injury.
Thursday night’s loss to the Senators was unfortunate and probably unacceptable. Still, at this point, with eight games remaining in the regular season, the opponent does not matter as much as finding what it will take to fix some of the Bruins’ issues that go beyond personnel and intelligent hockey.