GLENDALE, Arizona – After stubbing their toes in back-to-back games against the Colorado Avalanche after a promising opener, the Bruins have plenty they need to show this weekend in back-to-back games on the road.
The Bruins are dead last in the NHL in defense with 4.3 goals allowed per game and the penalty kill is 23rd, averaging a PP goal allowed per game.
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The Bruins aren’t getting any offensive bang for the defensive transgressions either while averaging just 2.3 goals per game. Clearly, they miss key offensive performers Patrice Bergeron and David Backes out with injuries but need to start finding some answers out of the still-talented group that’s healthy and playing.
Bruce Cassidy ran the Bruins through practice ahead of the Saturday night showdown with the winless Coyotes and seemed to be focused on simplifying things for a team that’s a lot of mistakes in the first few games. That means simply taking things to the net in the offensive zone and playing it a little safer when he comes to pinching and jumping on plays at the offensive blue line.
It’s not the ideal way this assertive, aggressive version of the Bruins wants to play, but it might be necessary at this point early in the season.
“The third period [in Colorado] we scored two goals and I don’t think we did anything spectacular other than win pucks, go to the net and be belligerent there. If that’s what it takes to get going, that’s what it takes sometimes to score goals in this league,” said Cassidy. “There are pretty goals and there are goals like that. If we can carry that attitude going forward that we’re going to be hard to play against in front of their net then I think things are going to loosen up for us and we’ll get rewarded. But that’s something where [the players] have to take that mindset on the ice.
“On the offensive blue line, I thought we had some struggles and maybe we were overthinking it and being too active. It’s stuff we’re trying to coach into the game to create some space, but other nights you just need to make sure it gets past their first layer and on net. Sometimes it’s going to get blocked by the second layer on the way to the net, but you have to get it past the first layer if you’re a D-man. That’s very important so the guys going to the net get some sort of reward.”
The message sounds simple to the Bruins at this point: Just play simple, hard and strong hockey and get some results until they’re in a position to add a little more flash and dazzle to a fuller, healthier group that’s got the basics down. Right now the Bruins are doing very little at a high level, and that’s not a good recipe for success in the NHL.