This started as a somewhat sarcastic response to how Bruce Cassidy’s Bruins having a “new voice” behind the bench changed everything, with a few photoshops and all that.
Boston’s performance lately has stripped any sense of humor I have out of this article and rewritten it. I, quite frankly, am sick of this.
Bruce Cassidy’s Bruins have won plenty of games. The vast majority of which are not against playoff teams, but they’ve more or less played whoever they are matched up against quite well and have done as they were expected to: play tough games, usually win them. If it has to be a goalfest so be it. If it’s a blowout, all for the better.
And then that Edmonton game happened.
Now, we look at Cassidy’s Bruins that are on the outside looking in. After a brutal wakeup call in Alberta. After so many vital points that put Toronto out of reach of 3rd place wasted on atrocious defensive mistakes, playing Rask as a matter of habit even if it isn’t in his best interest or if he’s not up to the task that particular night. All of that contributed to the position Boston is in, and Bruce oversaw it. He’s encouraged this.
Honeymoon’s over, Bruce. We’re gonna need a little more than beating New Jersey and Detroit these days. Especially against teams directly ahead or behind you in the standings. There’s no more room for error, as you’ve already read.
Cassidy’s Bruins has a lot of the same problems that got Claude fired, but he was able to counteract them with a dizzying array of scoring from players like Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak, even getting defensemen scoring!
In the last 4 however, things have gone south in a big way. And with old problems, come brand new ones.
- Cassidy has begun to limit time of rookies like Frank Vatrano and Ryan Spooner in situations where they might be useful in place of players that just don’t seem to be working out in high danger situations (such as needing a goal), with Spoons getting benched for the final half hour of last game.
- Four 5v5 goals and half of those coming from a 4th line seeing less than 10 minutes a night over said four games.
- A third line that resembles an island of misfit toys of long beleagured center, a rookie, and a long-time veteran that have combined for almost nothing in terms of scoring over the past few games
- Incredible passiveness in front of Rask as opposed to simple breakdowns, which has led to some truly braindead goals on the part of Rask and the defense.
- Visible frustration on the part of the Team’s stars which instead of being channelled towards goalscoring has had them taking boneheaded penalties and stymying rushes and chances.
- Backes, in spite of playing with Marchand and Bergeron, being a black hole of possession (relative to the other two)
That’s just to name a few. It is by the work of Pastrnak, Marchand, Bergeron and individual members of the 4th line and defense that Boston can even say they were somewhere close to competitive in their last few games. And now they wait precariously for their next game in which they must do something, anything they can to deny NYI points. And Bruce is in charge of that now.
He must find a way to make this team that has two 30 goal scorers, five players with at least 50 points, and one that has close to 80 a playoff team. Even if it means they get bounced in the first round in a truly ruthless fashion, it would be better than missing out for the third time in a row with players that are quite frankly way too good for this. Whatever it takes, demoting a player to 4th line duty, dropping right winger into the depths, actually starting Khudobin for once, meaningful change that can be seen throughout the games is needed. Even if it doesn’t work, it still looks better than just spinning one’s wheels kinda like...y’know, how Claude’s tenure ended.
It is Cassidy’s job to rise up from the realities of the roster and of what certain talent can realistically do. Whining and moaning about the way any one Bruin is playing isn’t going to make it any less fixed. It has to be a team effort, and he has to coordinate that team to victory.
And he’s got precious little time to right this.