Bruins

Bruce Cassidy doesn't commit to keeping David Pastrnak on top line

Bruce Cassidy doesn't commit to keeping David Pastrnak on top line

Head coach Bruce Cassidy and the rest of the Bruins front office and coaching staff have a lot to think about this summer.

After losing Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final, the Bruins have more questions than answers heading into the offseason. What do you do with David Backes? Can Brad Marchand replicate his 100-point regular season? Sell high on Torey Krug? 

Arguably the most pressing question that arose at various points in the season and into the playoffs: Is the "Perfection Line" worth keeping together? On Monday afternoon, Cassidy addressed whether David Pastrnak's spot next to Marchand and Patrice Bergeron is safe: 

"Yeah, we had a lot of discussions this year about Pasta staying there," Cassidy said. "Going forward, to me it always depends (on) what are the options. Who’s going to go there and make us the best team? At times, Danton Heinen did a good job. I felt at the end of the day, could he sustain it every night? Wasn’t convinced. Not saying he could or couldn’t, but that was my decision to put Pasta back there.

"After that, I don’t know if we tried a whole lot of other guys. At the deadline we had some ideas. Unfortunately, the injury to Johansson, that’s the hand you’re dealt, so he could’ve been a good fit up there too. Going forward, next year I will talk about that. I think, geez, we went back to Anders Bjork we thought at a time would be – so, there could be a younger guy that steps up in camp. For me to say right now that this guy is going to go there, I don’t think you do that. You have to let the player earn it and see what they’ve got.

"So, that’s it, or maybe someone else will surface elsewhere. That’s internal stuff that we’ll have discussions about, but that’s the game plan for next year. They’ve been an excellent line. They want to grow as well. They want to keep getting better, so certainly a possibility they’ll stay together."

By no means did Cassidy shut the door on the Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak line. However, Pastrnak's poor playoff performance amid some self-described mental battles led some to suggest he should be moved down to David Krejci's second line. 

In the playoffs, Pastrnak finished with nine goals, 19 points and an even plus/minus in 24 games. But in the Stanley Cup Final against St. Louis, Pastrnak was a -7. In total, the Perfection Line scored two goals and had 19 goals against during five-on-five play against the Blues. 

The Bruins shuffled Pastrnak between the first and second lines during both the regular season and their playoff run, so shifting him permanently wouldn't be that extreme of an adjustment. To maximize the Bruins' ceiling, they need to get the most out of Pastrnak, whatever line he plays on. 

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Talking Points from the Bruins' 3-2 shootout loss to the Capitals

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Talking Points from the Bruins' 3-2 shootout loss to the Capitals

Talking points from Saturday's 3-2 shootout loss to the Capitals at TD Garden . . . 

GOLD STAR: The Bruins wouldn’t have even received a point in Saturday night’s game if it weren’t for the efforts of Jaroslav Halak. The B’s netminder stopped 42 shots and was brilliant from beginning to end against a Capitals team that outshot Boston nearly 2-to-1 through the course of the entire game. He stopped 17-of-18 in the first period when the Bruins didn’t have their legs under them, and would have stolen the game for Boston if Zdeno Chara could have cleared the zone ahead of T.J. Oshie’s game-tying in the final minute of the third period. He was just as good in the shootout, with diving stops that kept the Bruins in the extra session, and certainly deserved a better fate at the end of the day.

🏒 HIGHLIGHTS FROM BRUINS' 3-2 LOSS TO CAPITALS

BLACK EYE: It’s time for Bruce Cassidy to stop over-thinking the shootout. He tried to use Chris Wagner based on a pretty good breakaway move he’s showed at times, and the thinking there was that perhaps an outside-the-box choice work create a shootout spark for the Bruins. Well, it has not, and instead Charlie Coyle is the only player that’s had success in the shootout this season for the Bruins, who are now 0-for-4 in shootout games. They need to go with a much more straight-ahead shootout philosophy, where they just get their best offensive guys out there quickly. That means having Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak as two of your top three guys to start, and perhaps featuring Coyle more now that he’s enjoyed some success. One thing is certain: They need to do something differently, because whatever they’re doing right now isn’t working.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins were hanging on by a thread while protecting the one-goal lead in the third period, and were outshot by an 11-6 margin by Washington while they put a ton of pressure on the Boston defense. Jaroslav Halak was up to the challenge for most of the period and the Bruins had a couple of chances to extend the lead, including a David Krejci redirect that went through Braden Holtby’s pads and trickled past the net, but the undermanned Bruins simply ran out of gas when it came to holding their slim lead. With the Bruins missing their best defender in Patrice Bergeron due to injury, T.J. Oshie scored the game-tying goal with a little less than a minute left to play with Sean Kuraly out on the ice with Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak. That’s not the ideal shutdown forward crew for the Bruins and it came back to bite them in the end.  

HONORABLE MENTION: David Pastrnak was one of the few Bruins playing with some energy throughout the game, and he scored what looked like was going to be the winning goal a few minutes into the second period. Pastrnak had a monster shift where he kicked things off for David Krejci and Charlie McAvoy to connect for a scoring chance, but McAvoy missed the open net with a one-timer shot from the slot. Pastrnak alertly picked up the puck and fired a bad angle shot for his 17th goal of the season. He was a key piece of offense with the Bruins missing so much of their firepower between Bergeron, Torey Krug and Jake DeBrusk. Pastrnak finished with the goal, 10 shot attempts and a couple of takeaways in 22:58 of ice time for the Black and Gold.

BY THE NUMBERS: 0-for-4 – The Bruins’ record in the shootout this season. They continue to lose vital points in the glorified skills challenge, with only Coyle seemingly enjoying any success.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “He was our best player by far. [It’s] disappointing that we couldn’t finish it because I thought our third period, we really bought into what we needed to compared to the Florida game, for example. We didn’t give up much at all [at the end of the game].” –Bruce Cassidy, on Halak and the improved third period for the Bruins, compared to their collapse against the Panthers a few days ago.

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NHL Highlights: Bruins surrender late lead vs. Capitals, lose 3-2 in shootout

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NHL Highlights: Bruins surrender late lead vs. Capitals, lose 3-2 in shootout

FINAL SCORE: Capitals 3, Bruins 2 (SO)

IN BRIEF: Just when it looked like the Bruins were going to hold on, despite being outshot by a nearly 2-to-1 margin losing another important piece in Patrice Bergeron, the Bruins surrendered a game-tying goal in the last minute of regulation from the Capitals' T.J. Oshie. Braeden Holtby denied Chris Wagner's five-hole attempt in the fifth round of the shootout to steal an 11th-hour comeback win.

BOX SCORE

BRUINS RECORD: 12-3-5 (28 points)

HIGHLIGHTS

COYLE PUTS HOME A BEAUTIFUL HEINEN FEED

PASTRNAK STICKS WITH IT, MAKES IT 2-1

UP NEXT: at New Jersey, 7 p.m., NESN

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