Bruins

Bruins will add assistant coach, tap Bradley to run draft board

Bruins will add assistant coach, tap Bradley to run draft board

While the Bruins technically operated, and operated well, short one coach once assistant coach Bruce Cassidy replaced Claude Julien behind the Boston bench, that’s not expected to continue for the upcoming season.

Bruins GM Don Sweeney confirmed this week that the B’s will be retaining the current assistant coach group of Joe Sacco, Jay Pandolfo and Bob Essensa to work under Cassidy as full-time head coach, and that they’ll be looking to add one more person to his staff.

“I think our staff did a very good job jumping in and picking up, because we didn’t add to it at the time [of Cassidy’s promotion] when we subtracted from the group. It will stay as is,” said Sweeney. “We will also be looking to add to it to complement that group. Bruce and I have already spoken briefly about it, but we haven’t identified yet and we’ve already received some people that would have some interest. We’ll pursue that accordingly.”

Sacco handled the defensemen and the penalty kill in the final few months of the season, and Pandolfo worked with the forwards in his very first season as an NHL assistant coach following a stint in player development. Essensa, of course, worked with the goaltenders and as the “eye in the sky” from the press box once Pandolfo moved to the bench following the coaching change. So the natural assumption would be that the Bruins would hire another former defenseman to work with the D-men given the backgrounds of Sacco and Pandolfo as forwards.

“We haven’t gotten too far out in front of it. But, Joe Sacco moved from the front of the bench to the D, and did a terrific job [while playing a] big part of the penalty kill all year. Jay [Pandolfo] came down from the press box, worked with the forwards, which he had worked with all year. But now he’s in the heat of the battle. They were terrific. We were a true staff,” said Cassidy. “Goalie Bob [Essensa] became a little bit more of an eye in the sky for us up there. We had Kim [Brandvold], who was our skating coach, helped a lot with the practices, with the pace we were trying to establish. I can’t thank them enough.

“Going forward, we’re going to meet and decide what’s the best fit for us [as an assistant hire]. Obviously those two have a forward background, I have a defense background, so maybe that’s an area we have to look at, what’s the best complement. But we’d be getting ahead of ourselves if I said today that we’re pinpointing an exact thing. We’ve got to look at it and say, ‘OK, who’s the best fit. What makes us the most successful?’ We’ll go from there with the candidates we get.”

The situation automatically leads one to wonder if P-Bruins head coach Kevin Dean would be a possible candidate as a longtime Cassidy assistant at the AHL level, or if Dean wants to continue on his track as a head coach. If not Dean then perhaps Providence Bruins assistant coach and former Bruins D-man Jay Leach might also be a strong candidate after his first season working with the young P-Bruins at the AHL level.

While it’s clear the Bruins still have some discussions before potentially making a move on hiring an NHL assistant for Cassidy’s staff, they have made a determination about their scouting staff. The B’s never replaced the head of amateur scouting position when Keith Gretzky was hired as an assistant general manager with the Edmonton Oilers, and it will instead be Bruins assistant GM Scott Bradley that will run Boston’s draft board in June.

“Scotty Bradley has stepped back into that role, which he’s very comfortable doing. He holds the title of Assistant General Manager and he’ll oversee the draft. We’re very comfortable with the people he’s worked with in recent years that have been a big, big part of our recent drafts. Our meetings went well,” said Sweeney. “They were just at the U-18s and had other subsequent meetings, so there will be some banter in the upcoming [scouting] meetings, in terms of where we end up finalizing our list. Scotty will oversee that.”

It’s not exactly foreign territory for Bradley, who previously held the head scouting position with the Black and Gold and played an instrumental role in drafting players like Milan Lucic, Phil Kessel, Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci. But there’s also some question as to how big a role Gretzky played in drafting the massive wave of talented prospects now pushing their way through Boston’s system, and how much his presence will be missed at NHL Draft weekend moving forward.  

Talking Points: Bruins' new-look David Krejci line pays off late in 3-2 win over Vegas

Talking Points: Bruins' new-look David Krejci line pays off late in 3-2 win over Vegas

GOLD STAR: David Krejci missed a couple of games with an upper-body injury, but made sure he returned for this final game ahead of the 10-day break for All-Star weekend and the bye week. And Krejci was a difference-maker. He scored the game-winner in the third period when he popped in a rebound of a Brandon Carlo point shot. 

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Krejci finished with a goal and two points along with a plus-1 rating with 18:04 of ice time, one shot on net, one takeaway and one blocked shots along with 6 of 12 face-off wins while centering Danton Heinen and Karson Kuhlman on a new-look line. It remains to be seen how the forward groups will be divided up when the Bruins come back from break, but things worked out pretty well in the 3-2 victory over Vegas on Tuesday night.

BLACK EYE: The Bruins won the game, but did it in spite of a power play that struggled mightily. 

The B's man-advantage went 0-for-5 on the power play against a Vegas team that’s stepped up its aggressiveness on the penalty kill. Boston managed just three shots on net in all that time on the man-advantage. 

They still won in spite of it all, obviously, but the B’s special teams were lousy with a powerless power play and a penalty kill that allowed a PP goal to the Golden Knights. 

Now, the Bruins' power play gets 10 days to re-energize and perhaps figure out a few new tricks.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins trailed 2-1 headed into the third period and it didn’t appear it was going to be their night. Still, they managed to summon a little extra effort in that final 20 minutes, outshot Vegas 14-13 and scored a pair of goals to win in regulation rather than risk another overtime or shootout loss.

It was Jake DeBrusk who scored on a left-wing rush to tie things up in the third and then Krejci who won it in the final few minutes before the Golden Knights got desperate by pulling their goalie. It was certainly a different tack for the B’s in this one. Rather than blowing a lead as they’d done a few times over the past couple of weeks, they rallied in the third to win it. 

HONORABLE MENTION: Good job by Jeremy Lauzon to step up and fill in at a time when the Bruins needed a little more physical thump. Even better, Lauzon managed to score his second career NHL goal on a deep point shot that traveled through a few Vegas bodies on its way to the net for Boston’s first score. 

Lauzon finished with the goal along with a plus-2 rating, two shot attempts, four registered hits and a blocked shot in 15:38 of ice time while also filling a lead role on the penalty kill. Considering it was Lauzon’s first NHL appearance of the season, it was very good with the physical, gritty play that could lead to more looks this season.

BY THE NUMBERS: 22:53 – the Bruins leading ice time player was Brad Marchand among forwards and defensemen in a game that featured plenty of special-teams situations.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “We did some good things [in] this first stretch. Enjoy yourself and get away wherever you’re going, mentally cleanse. But understand that [when] we get back, we get at it pretty quick.” –Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy on his message to his Bruins players headed into the 10-day break.

Mind-blowing stat shows importance of Jake DeBrusk scoring for the Bruins

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USA TODAY Sports photo

Mind-blowing stat shows importance of Jake DeBrusk scoring for the Bruins

The Boston Bruins are often carried by the efforts of The Perfection Line. Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak had accounted for 79 of the team's 166 goals entering Tuesday night's game and were a massive part of their hot start to the season.

But secondary scoring is important as well. And in particular, Jake DeBrusk getting goals tends to have a really positive impact on the Bruins.

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According to the "Boston Sports Info" Twitter account, the Bruins are a remarkable 44-5-1 when DeBrusk scores in the regular season.

And in the playoffs, the Bruins are 6-3 when DeBrusk scores at least once. 

DeBrusk was a key for the Bruins in their 3-2 win over the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday night. He scored the tying goal for the team early in the third period to afford them the opportunity to come from behind to win.

Moving forward, DeBrusk's scoring will be important. The Bruins are simply better when he produces goals and when the second line can impact the game. If this is the start of a hot streak for him, it could coincide with the B's getting hot.

Of course, they'll have to get through a lengthy All-Star break before that can happen. The Bruins won't play again until Jan. 31 when they travel to Winnipeg to take on the Jets.