Cassidy: Scoring 5-on-5 goals key to Bruins' chances against Senators

Cassidy: Scoring 5-on-5 goals key to Bruins' chances against Senators

OTTAWA -- So what does interim coach Bruce Cassidy think the Bruins' playoff series with the Ottawa Senators will come down to? 

It will be about scoring goals 5-on-5 against the constricting 1-3-1 trap employed by the Senators, and it’s as simple as that.


The Bruins went 0-3-1 against the Senators in four regular-season tries this year and only scored six goals in those four games at a clip . . . way below the 2.8 goals per game they averaged against the entire league. 

Even worse, the B’s managed just one goal scored during 5-on-5 play against Guy Boucher's trap. It was essentially a meaningless first-period Patrice Bergeron score in a 4-2 loss to the Sens early in Cassidy's reign.

So the Bruins will need their typically dominant special teams, they’ll need superior goaltending . . . and they’re going to need to find a way to do some even-strength offensive damage. 

“We’re confident,” said Cassidy. “I like our group. There’s a lot that goes into it. Who is going to make the key play at the key time? I think both goalies are solid. Who makes the big save at the big time? I like our special teams.

"So our issue, if we’re just going to look at the regular season against Ottawa, it would be our 5-on-5 scoring. We need to have more pop there. It’s whether we finish or not, but whether we create a little more there. We’ve talked about it internally and a little bit here about how we can do that.

“There’s a lot to like about their hockey club. They’re a good team and they’ve got good players. They play their game well, so we’ve got our work cut out for us. So it’s one game at a time and hopefully we’re the better group tonight.”

Banged-up Bruins lose two more -- Rick Nash, McQuaid

Banged-up Bruins lose two more -- Rick Nash, McQuaid

BOSTON – It’s another day and another injured player, or two, for the Boston Bruins.

Veteran right winger Rick Nash was a late scratch for the Bruins on Monday night against the Blue Jackets after getting banged up in last weekend’s win over the Tampa Bay Lightning, and Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid had to exit due to injury in the third period of Monday night’s 5-4 overtime loss at TD Garden.  

“[Nash] got hit in Tampa, so we thought he was fine. He had an upper-body injury,” said Bruce Cassidy. “This morning, pregame skate, we thought he’d be fine, and it turned out after pregame skate, early afternoon, he wasn’t. So, you know, we had to make a call for Anton Blidh.”

The Nash absence forced the Bruins to recall Blidh from Providence on emergency recall and plug him into the lineup not using him in the last couple of road games in Florida, and it also pushed 21-year-old rookie Ryan Donato into a top-6 role alongside David Krejci in his NHL debut. Clearly things worked out for Donato with a 1-goal, 3-point performance in his first NHL game, and that along with some quality organizational depth is helping them withstand some of the injuries.

McQuaid was held to just 10:42 of ice time that was the fewest among all Bruins D-men on Monday night, but it was unclear exactly what befell him on the ice injury-wise.  

It is getting a little ridiculous for a Bruins team that’s missing Patrice Bergeron (fractured right foot), Zdeno Chara (upper body), Jake DeBrusk (upper body), Charlie McAvoy (sprained left MCL), David Backes (right leg laceration) and now may have to go without Nash (upper body) and McQuaid (undisclosed) as well. Clearly it’s something the Bruins will have to play through for the time being while simply hoping that it all conveniently clears up ahead of the Stanley Cup playoffs. 

“You know, you call a player up [from the AHL], right? We signed one out of college; that helped. So, that’s it. [The injuries] are uncontrollable to a certain extent. It’s kind of enough, now. I would agree. We’ve had our share, so let’s get these guys healthy and get ready to play,” said Cassidy. “I don’t know. You’ve got to play the game in front of you and you just hope the string of, kind of, tough luck, is over.

“That’s it. It’s a physical game. We’ve said all along, to have successful seasons, both regular and playoffs, you need a certain level of health. That’s what we’re hoping, that these guys come back, and that’s it. Until then, we plug the holes and play the game in front of you.”

Plugging those holes will continue to get more and more challenging if the Bruins keep losing players from their lineup on a nightly basis as they may have on Monday with both Nash and McQuaid now banged up as well.


NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Donato impresses in NHL debut

NBC Sports Boston Photo

NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Donato impresses in NHL debut

1:13 - Joe Haggerty joins from the TD Garden to discuss the non-call on Brad Marchand’s breakaway, Ryan Donato shining in his NHL debut, and when Patrice Bergeron could be returning.

6:16 - Gary Tanguay, Mike Giardi, and Trenni Kusnierek debate if the Patriots are starting to replace the talent they’ve lost this offseason as they have acquired Adrian Clayborn, Jeremy Hill, and Jason McCourty. 

11:01 - A. Sherrod Blakely joins Boston Sports Tonight to talk about the Celtics continuing to struggle as the injuries have piled up.