Bruce Cassidy welcomes tweaks to the off-side coaches challenge


Bruce Cassidy welcomes tweaks to the off-side coaches challenge

BRIGHTON, Mass – Bruce Cassidy clearly isn’t in love with the coach’s challenge at the NHL level. 

It disrupts the flow of the game when it comes into play, and it has seemed to absolutely crucify the Bruins at very inopportune times since its inception at the beginning of last season. But it’s also something that the Bruins coaching staff must be on top of to gain any possible edge against the opposition, and now the pressure will be on even more heavily after rule changes give the team a minor penalty for any incorrectly challenged off-side play. 

According to the NHL release, the rule “will provide for the assessment of a two-minute minor penalty for unsuccessful Coach’s Challenges to alleged Off-Side infractions leading to goals. The penalty for the unsuccessful off-side challenge replaces the loss of a team’s time-out – which had been in place since the implementation of the Coach’s Challenge in 2015. Under the revised rule, a team does not have to possess its time-out in order to issue a challenge on the particular play – nor will it forfeit its time-out in the event of an unsuccessful challenge.”

Clearly the rule has been tweaked to lessen the amount of off-side coach’s challenges seen in the league last season, and to also add more power plays, and therefore more offense theoretically, to a league that’s always looking to boost goal-scoring. The Bruins head coach liked the idea of fewer coach’s challenges, but hopes that a coaching staff will have the proper time to quickly review the video before play is resumed. 

“I’m not against it. I prefer a game with flow, so to begin with the more challenges there are, the more it slows the game down and the more pressure is on me to get it right. So I’m not a fan of all these different challenges,” said Cassidy. “Hopefully now if they’re going to punish you for getting the challenge wrong, they’ll give you an appropriate amount of time so you can get an accurate read from your video guys. 99 times out of 100 it’s so close that you’re going to need information from the people you’ve designated to give you that information. 

“Last year they wanted it at a certain time. They looked at you after every goal looking for a ‘Yes’ or ‘No.’ This year because it’s punitive you’d hope they’d give you an extra five seconds to at least sort through it, or ten seconds … whatever it takes. Last year I think the officials said they’d try to give you 25 or 30 seconds while the other team is celebrating anyway. Maybe you want a line change. They’d tried to build all that in, but there was no hemming and hawing. As the year went on they tried to streamline things to get it going. As a coach you have to be fairly certain now because you’d hate to give up a goal on a power play. That would be a big momentum swing.”


A return "imminent" for McQuaid after two-month absence


A return "imminent" for McQuaid after two-month absence

BRIGHTON, Mass – It sounds like the toughness quotient might be going up quite a bit higher for the Bruins in the near future.

Adam McQuaid may be cleared to play as soon as Monday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets, or at least later on in the week if it doesn’t happen against the rough-and-tumble, Metro Division Blue Jackets. The 6-foot-5 hard-nosed defender has been out for nearly two months with a broken right fibula, but has been back skating with the Bruins for a couple of weeks.

“I don’t know if Monday he’ll be cleared, but he’s getting close. He’s practicing with us, so it’s imminent for him. I just don’t want to pinpoint an exact day,” said Cassidy of McQuaid, who was one of a handful of players along with Jake DeBrusk, Anders Bjork, Frank Vatrano, Paul Postma and Anton Khudobin that skated on Sunday at Warrior Ice Arena.

There certainly may be some rust in McQuaid’s game after missing the last 24 cgames dating back to the Oct. 19 injury. Ddding another tough customer and D-zone warrior certainly won't hurt the Bruins. In the short term, the presence of McQuaid could protect some of B's top players like Brad Marchand who has received some questionable hits over the last couple of months. In the long term his presence adds more size, strength and toughness in the defensive zone.

In terms of pairings it would be logical to swing Kevan Miller back over to the left side, and potentially pull rookie puck-mover Matt Grzelcyk out of the lineup once McQuaid is ready to play. But Bruce Cassidy indicated it won’t be that simple, and there may be times when the Bruins roll seven defensemen given their strength in numbers once McQuaid comes back.

“If you take the last guy in, Grzelcyk, [out of the lineup] then you’re back to your four righty [defensemen]. We had mixed levels of success with that, and then it’s a matter of who on the right Is going to come out if he stick with the three lefties,” said Cassidy. “That’s an internal discussion that we’ve already started to have. He will definitely help the penalty kill. It could be a different lineup every night where we go with six D one night, and then go with seven D the next night. It will create good competition.”

McQuaid wants to temper the excitement now that he’s on the verge of a return, and is simply putting in work until he’s given the green light to play. The busy NHL schedule and the lack of quality practice time isn't the perfect scenario for the 31-year-old defenseman to return, so it’s simply a matter of doing what’s best for player and team.

“I’d like to get back as soon as I can obviously. I’ve missed a lot of time, but it’s a process. I just try to approach it like I’m not getting my hopes up too much,” said McQuaid, who had an assist and a minus-3 in the six games he did appear in. “We’ll have a better idea tomorrow. The more and more game-like situations you get in [can help].

“We haven’t gone too far down the road so I don’t know exactly [when I’ll return]. I’m just out there trying to get closer, but I’m excited about where I’m at and the possibility of moving forward. It’s been fun watching the guys, but I can’t wait to get back in there and be part of a winning hockey team again.”


Morning Skate: Senators kind of a mess right now


Morning Skate: Senators kind of a mess right now

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while I still remain pretty conflicted about my thoughts on the Last Jedi. See yesterday’s morning skate for the full review.

*Happy Holidays from the Boston Bruins, who all wore spiffy Christmas-inspired suits into TD Garden for Saturday night’s game against the Rangers. The clear winners are Christmas Elf Brad Marchand and bedazzled Patrice Bergeron, but everybody is a winner when they’re in the holiday spirit.

*Here’s a blueprint for all 31 NHL teams to get an outdoor game next season if you’re really looking to run the concept into the ground.

*Everybody loves a goalie fight, and the Providence Bruins had one last night even if it was more like slightly angry hugging than actual fighting.

*This quick snippet from an Ottawa Senators radio broadcast this weekend is one of the oddest things I’ve heard in a while. No idea what took them down that path.

*Speaking of the Senators, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly says he has no idea why the Sens are having such big attendance problems at their arena. I can think of one reason: location, location and location.

*Larry Brooks goes over the Sean Avery memoir just in time for Christmas for all those looking for a stocking stuffer, or just looking for the perfect gift for that hockey rat in your life.

*Hacksaw Jim Duggan dropping the puck for a minor league hockey game is definitely something to brag about. Ho!

*For something completely different: 20 years later, the crazy story of how the blockbuster Titanic ultimately got made.