Bruins

Cassidy: Exhibition game vs. Canadiens, Julien 'not much of a storyline'

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Cassidy: Exhibition game vs. Canadiens, Julien 'not much of a storyline'

BRIGHTON, Mass – While it’s expected that the regular season meetings between the Bruins and Canadiens are going to be emotionally charged with Claude Julien behind the Montreal bench - and that goes doubly for the first time the two rivals square off - don’t expect that to be the case for Monday night’s preseason opener vs. the Canadiens in Quebec City.

Bruce Cassidy will be on the Boston bench with a lineup he said will “definitely be on the youthful side”, and it’s expected that Julien will be behind the Habs bench for the first time against the hockey club where he coached the previous ten seasons. That makes it notable despite it being an exhibition season matchup, but Cassidy didn’t think any hard feelings would creep into a game where players are just trying to get their bearings after months away from the ice.

“I’ll go over and say hello and we’ll have a chat about training camp…just like we did at the draft. I don’t think this game is much of a storyline as much as it’s a first game for both teams that are probably evaluating their talent,” said Cassidy, who replaced Julien as the B’s bench boss last season after an early February coaching change. “Obviously the regular season is different where you’ve got your full lineups, and it’s Bruins/Canadiens. It’s the rivalry.

“This one I’ll be spending a lot more time worrying about our guys, and not so much worried about lineup matchups or any of that stuff going on. Hopefully the result goes our way, but we’re looking more at how we’re playing as a team. Are we playing with energy and pace? How are the individuals we’re evaluating [looking]…are they able to do what they’re asked to do? At the end of the day, that’s the biggest thing that we’re looking for [in the exhibition opener.”

The Bruins and Canadiens never faced each other once Cassidy had replaced Julien, and then Julien, the winningest coach in B’s history, was subsequently hired by Montreal and signed to a five-year contract. So the new Bruins head coach said that he’s very much looking forward to meaningful games vs. the Habs even if Monday night’s preseason tilt isn’t one that’s going to lastingly count as a chapter in rivalry history.  

“We’ll play sooner or later. Listen its Bruins/Montreal, we’re looking forward to great games,” said Cassidy. “Would we rather have, pick any team we don’t have a rivalry with. . . would we rather play them four times? I’d rather have Montreal personally, so I’m looking forward to those games.”

For the record, Cassidy and the rest of the Bruins will have to wait until the January 13 road tilt at the Bell Centre for Boston’s first regular-season face-to-face meeting with Julien since the coaching change was made last winter.

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Pastrnak on B's loss: "We kind of stopped playing"

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Pastrnak on B's loss: "We kind of stopped playing"

BOSTON – At the end of the day, it was simply a game where the Bruins allowed themselves to get outworked in the third period and overtime. 

The B’s held a three-goal lead in the second period and still enjoyed a two-goal lead in the third period, but eventually dropped a frustrating, futile 5-4 overtime loss to the Buffalo Sabres at TD Garden on Saturday night. It was clear to most speaking after the game that the Bruins eased up on the gas pedal once they’d scored their fourth goal of the game in the second period, and simply watched as the Sabres stomped all over them in the game’s second half. 

“I think we might have been a little bit too scared to play [in the third period], you know? We tried to just flip the pucks away, and didn’t make any plays trying to get it in the zone. Instead we should have just kept going like we did in the first two periods,” said David Pastrnak, who scored a pair of goals early in the loss to allow the Bruins to build up the three-goal lead. “Obviously we’re disappointed. We got one point. I think we didn’t play our game in the third period. We kind of stopped playing and they were all over us, and you know, it’s on us. We were the ones that gave them their point, but the first two periods were good. It’s just another learning session.”

To Pastrnak’s point, the Bruins were outshot by a 15-6 margin in the final 20 minutes of regulation and 21-6 overall in the third period and overtime prior to Ryan O’Reilly’s game-winner during 3-on-3 play. It was at this point the Bruins certainly missed stalwart stay-at-home defensemen Adam McQuaid and Kevan Miller in the D-zone, and fell short of qualified penalty killers while trying to burn off a Brandon Carlo interference call at the end of the third period. 

All of that caught up to them once the Bruins loosened their grip on the Sabres, but certainly the feeling is that the loss should’ve been avoidable even if some of the circumstances made it difficult for the Black and Gold. It also should have been avoidable against a Sabres hockey club that was dreadful last season, and is again one of the doormats in the Atlantic Division in the early going thus far. 

“Those are the games you can’t lose. We obviously didn’t do the job there in the third and close it out, but we’re going to have to regroup and work on our game and be better for the next one,” said Brad Marchand. “We didn’t play the game we needed to play. We relaxed a bit and we started losing a few battles in the wrong areas, and you know, they just played better than we did.”

It’s mystifying that any team would need a crash-and-born loss like Saturday night in order to learn any lessons moving forward, and it certainly might have been a different story for the Bruins if they weren’t missing a few big defensive pieces. But that’s not how it went down for the Black and Gold as they sagged under rising pressure from the Sabres, and simply stopped working when the chips were on the table late in Saturday night’s game.