Cassidy: 'Not a lot of free ice' in Game 4 shutout loss

Cassidy: 'Not a lot of free ice' in Game 4 shutout loss

BOSTON -- It certainly feels like the Ottawa Senators have fully wrapped a sleeper hold on the Bruins offense, doesn’t it?

The Sens took a commanding 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series with a 1-0 shutout win in Game 4 at TD Garden where they shut out leading scorer Brad Marchand for the third game in a row, and have held David Pastrnak to a paltry two shots on net in four playoff games in the series. In this particular game, the B’s had their chances early with 12 shots on net in the first 20 minutes, and top shelf scoring chances for Marchand on two different breakaways behind Erik Karlsson. Ryan Spooner had the Bruins' third chance, a high slot off an odd-man rush to the Senators' net. 

But they came up empty and more than a little frustrated afterward. Still, they pledged to turn the page to Game 5 on Friday night in Ottawa.  

“You just have to stick with it,” said Brad Marchand, who missed on a couple of breakaway chances in the first period. “We know that’s the team we’re playing and that’s fine. We were that [defensive-minded] team for many years. So, you know, they say defense wins championships and that’s obviously their motto over there. We just have to find a way to continue to do the same thing [generating chances].

"That’s hockey. You’re not going to win 7-6 every night. You’ve got to be able to play any style, so that’s the way it is.”

Team-wide the Bruins managed just 10 shots on net in the final 40 minutes as Ottawa clogged up the neutral zone and prevented the B’s from holding the puck in the offensive zone for any meaningful period of time. 

The Bruins could make the argument that it was just another one-goal game that could have gone either way, but some of the oomph is lost from that take when one realizes that Wednesday night is exactly the pace and style of play that the methodical, frustrating Senators are looking for. 

“They’re good [on defense], for one,” said interim coach Bruce Cassidy. “They’ve done a good job with that. The identity of their team is they’re always five back for the most part. So there’s not a lot of free ice in there. And they break out pucks well. They’ve got a goaltender that handles it well. They’ve got some defensemen, so they’ve got good structure. 

“We knew it would be difficult. But, for us, the flip side of that is the first periods when we did have our ice and we did have our opportunities, we weren’t able to bury them. Sometimes, with a team like Ottawa, or with any team, if you get a lead, the game opens up a little bit and some of those opportunities are a little easier to get through there.”

So now the Bruins have gone through four playoff games against Ottawa with fits and starts offensively where it can burst through for two or three goals in a period’s time, or multiple periods where nothing is doing against the Senators' zone-clogging trap. But the bottom line is that the B’s have only done enough offensively to win one of the four playoff games in the series, and it doesn’t look like that trend is going to change with Boston’s back now firmly against the wall. 

Morning Skate: Bruins troll Felger for lack of confidence

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Morning Skate: Bruins troll Felger for lack of confidence

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while the Bruins are going into troll mode.

*Here is the aforementioned “troll mode” for the Bruins now that they’ve clinched a playoff berth. They came out with a marketing campaign where they’re dragging FOH (Friend of Haggs) Mike Felger for his early season take that the Bruins season is over. He also ripped the young players at the beginning of the year as well, so they used the sound from “Felger and Mazz” with video clips of David Pastrnak and Charlie McAvoy dominating for the Black and Gold, and shots of the young players mean mugging at the camera. It definitely shows that the Bruins perhaps care a little too much about what the media thinks about them, but it’s also a fair bit of clap-back toward a take that was a little too harsh on the B’s early in the season.

*What a great piece on the Stoneman Douglas hockey team as they embark on a national hockey tournament after winning at the state level in the weeks after the Parkland shooting.

*Chicago Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman says the Hawks aren’t shaken even as they’ll be missing the playoffs for the first time in a long time. What a disappointing season.

*Despite a great season, Taylor Hall may end up missing the playoffs with the New Jersey Devils amidst his Hart Trophy-type season.

*Good news for the Toronto Maple Leafs as Auston Matthews is returning from injury ahead of the playoffs

*For something completely different: This new, updated version of the Karate Kid web series looks awesome with Billy Zabka and Ralph Macchio.



Cassidy eyeing possible Bergeron return this weekend

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Cassidy eyeing possible Bergeron return this weekend

Bruins star center Patrice Bergeron has been dealing with a fractured foot injury since late February. He sustained the injury while blocking a shot in the loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Coach Bruce Cassidy is predicting a return for Bergeron this weekend against the Minnesota Wild if he is medically cleared. He will be evaluated tomorrow.

Depending on the results from the evaluation, there might not even be a need to rush Bergeron back with the Bruins clinching a playoff berth in a 2-1 OT loss to the Blues yesterday evening.

MORE BRUINS: Bruins clinch playoff berth in 2-1 OT loss to Blues​

The Bruins currently sit six points behind the Tampa Bay Lighting for first place in the Atlantic Division. Ten games currently remain on the B’s schedule with the Presidents' Trophy also hanging in the balance.

If the B’s decide to make a run for the Presidents' Trophy, Bergeron would definitely provide a boost in play in addition to leadership for the final stretch of the regular season.