Bruins

Bruce Cassidy feels Bruins lacked energy in loss to Oilers

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Bruce Cassidy feels Bruins lacked energy in loss to Oilers

BOSTON – It’s virtually impossible for any hockey club to maintain a high energy burst throughout an entire 82-game schedule, and that means some efforts are a lot more noteworthy than others. The Bruins had four good ones in a row dating back to their West Coast road trip, but that was before throwing out a massive dud on the ice in Sunday night’s 4-2 loss to the struggling Edmonton Oilers at TD Garden.

They were outmuscled and outhit by the Oilers, Edmonton blocked twice as many shots as Boston despite throwing more pucks at the net and got dominated in the second period by the count of a 17-5 shot advantage for the Oilers as they too control of the game. The Bruins finally showed a little urgency in the third period, but the end result, with Tuukka Rask between the pipes, was another middle-of-the-road effort that understandably seemed to annoy their head coach after the game. 
 
“We lacked energy. Obviously, that was very visible to everyone. I don’t think they had a ton early on, either. I think there was an opportunity there to dictate the pace of the game, help with the outcome, and then we do get the power-play goal,” said Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. “So, we were fortunate there to make a good play, but that couldn’t kick-start us, in terms of energy, to extend the lead. It’s disappointing. You’re at home. We’ve played well of late. We started well [against the Penguins], but we just didn’t have it [against the Oilers].

“At the end of the day, it’s 2-2 after the second. We have to find a way. Just disappointed in the goal we gave up. We had men – it’s a 3-on- 3, a line that’s good and defensive-minded. I think in the offensive zone we weren’t hard enough, and then coming back into our end. Even though it looks like the D got crossed up and certainly got picked there, but if we come back harder into our zone, they might not get that play. That’s disappointing all around.”

Perhaps it was the Bruins relaxing a bit after pushing their way back into the playoff picture following their four-game winning streak, and maybe there is something to the Bruins playing an emotionally detached game behind their laid back, even-keeled No. 1 goaltender. Whatever the case, it turned into one of those dreadful, low energy losses that could unfortunately turn into big time regret when the Stanley Cup playoff credentials are counted at the end of the season. 

Bruins, Marchand struggle mightily on power play in defeat

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Bruins, Marchand struggle mightily on power play in defeat

BOSTON – The Bruins have to hope the ugly look for their power play units ends up being a temporary phase.

The Bruins managed to put together just six shots on net in seven power play chances during Saturday night’s 3-2 overtime loss to the New York Rangers, a situation that was just barely salvaged by a third-period power play goal. The score was a timely one on a connection from David Pastrnak to Brad Marchand that pushed things into overtime, but it did little to wipe out the monumental struggles earlier in the game.

The Bruins couldn’t cohesively get the puck in the offensive zone, and plenty of their team-high 22 giveaways in the game took place in the handful of instances they were rewarded with PP’s this season.

Couple that with the back-to-back shorthanded goals allowed in back-to-back games against Detroit and Washington, and there may be some issues to be straightened out on the man advantage.

“Early on, I thought the pressure in zone, we weren’t able to handle it. They were more aggressive on the kill than we were ready for, and we just did not handle it well,” said Bruce Cassidy. “We had a couple plays in mind we thought might work down low around the net. I think we forced the puck on those down by the goal line, so we spent a lot of time going back into our own end and breaking the puck out, which becomes frustrating.

“We tried to run a delayed play tonight; we were out of sync on it. So, there was problems getting into the zone and there were problems in the zone. There was problems, I mean, whoever watched the game clearly – I mean, we struggled on the power play. We’re not going to hide from that, but it got us a goal later, so we eventually kind of got it squared away but we certainly had opportunities early to take advantage and we didn’t.”

The overall performance during the month of December isn’t that bad for the Bruins, who are 6-for-26 (23 percent success rate) on the power play in the games played this month. They’ve been getting more production with better health, but they’re also playing a little too fast and loose with the puck management and decision-making on the ice.  

Brad Marchand admitted after Saturday night’s loss that it’s up to the Bruins players to start picking it up on special teams and make some better choices with the puck.

“It’s on us. We’re forcing plays when they’re not there. Maybe we need to realize we have an extra second, need to calm it down a bit. When we do that, we are at our best that’s kind of when things go well,” said Marchand. “When we take that extra second, we have good support and read off each other well. We aren’t doing any of that now, we are pressing a bit, but something we need to work on and get better at.”

Perhaps that Marchand goal can be the rallying point for the Bruins power play to move on and move out with all the proper personnel healthy and in place with Ryan Spooner, and just a good, old-fashioned confidence-booster acting as the only thing that can quickly lift the Black and Gold man advantage out of their current status in the dumps.

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Cassidy: Too-many-men penalties 'a lousy way to lose'

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Cassidy: Too-many-men penalties 'a lousy way to lose'

BOSTON – The Bruins made plenty of mistakes in Saturday night’s overtime loss to the New York Rangers, but perhaps most glaring was the pair of too many men on the ice penalties late in the tightly contested hockey game.

The first too many men call wiped out the Bruins' final power play of the game, and the second infraction set up the Mats Zuccarello overtime game-winner in the 3-2 victory for the Rangers. Bruce Cassidy had a wry smile on the Bruins bench right after the penalty was called, and copped to a guilty plea of trying to get away with a little something after the game was over.

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Truth be told, the too many men on the ice call in OT could have been called on any one of Torey Krug, Patrice Bergeron or Brad Marchand as they headed off the ice after a long shift going back and forth up the ice. The Bruins were scrambling to try and change players while also catching up to a Rangers rush into the B’s defensive zone, and that’s where the trouble came in.

“We’re scrambling to get on the ice, so the call might have been from, like, [Charlie] McAvoy jumping for [Torey] Krug, it might have been Krech [David Krejci] going for Bergy [Patrice Bergeron]. I don’t know. I can’t complain, I mean, we’re trying to gain an advantage there,” said Cassidy. “Sometimes you get away with it, sometimes you don’t. We didn’t. And the other one was on the power play; we had a forward jump for the wrong guy.

“We had six guys. So, it’s hard to complain about them, you know, we were at fault there, we’ll take the blame for that and unfortunately it’s a lousy way to lose, but we had some chances in overtime too, we just lost our footing on a couple too. It was one of those nights, it seemed like we were – we had some chances at the offensive blue line, even in overtime, we just lost control of pucks and lost our footing and took away some good chances for us.”

Cassidy and the Bruins had a little too many men on the ice trouble during their first-round playoff series against the Ottawa Senators last spring, but it hasn’t really been a recurring issue at all for the B’s bench this season. So the expectation is that Saturday’s OT loss to the Rangers, too many men on the ice penalties and all, was another example of a lot of odd things happening to the Bruins in a game they most definitely didn’t deserve to win. 

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