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Cassidy calls out Chara, defense

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Bruce Cassidy was livid after the OT loss Thursday night

NHL: Philadelphia Flyers at Boston Bruins Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Thursday night seemed like a replay of Tuesday night’s game against Winnipeg. The Bruins held a 2-1 lead heading into the third period. While Bruce Cassidy humbly gave credit to the Flyers, recognizing their now six-game winning streak, he described the 3-2 overtime loss as “self-inflicted.”

The play that was referenced first, was the Giroux goal.

McAvoy recovers the puck on the boards at the right blue line and heads towards the slot, where he shoots and misses the net. The play goes the other way and the Flyers only have Chara to beat, where there was no chance he was halting Giroux on the way to the net.

When asked about McAvoy missing his net, Cassidy exclaimed, “Well that’s the first problem, right?” It seemed as though Cassidy would go on all night about that specific play, but that seemed to be the focus for him there. There is a difference between shooting to score and shooting for a second chance, or to freeze the puck, and Cassidy said he trusts them as professionals to make the right choice.

Cassidy also excused Sean Kuraly for his efforts on the goal. As the F3, Kuraly’s responsibility is to support McAvoy when he activates in the offensive zone. He positioned himself at the top of the faceoff circles when the shot occurred. With one Flyer at the blue line, and another in the neutral zone, there was no chance for Chara on the back end.

Cassidy was frustrated with the defensive core, specifically Zdeno Chara. “He’s the captain of the team,” the bench boss said, “He won a Stanley Cup here by being a defensive stalwart."

"We'll have a conversation about it, but he's the leader back there," he continued. "Got to get Charlie to buy in, got to get Carlo...he has, and that has to continue."

Cassidy mentioned that the identity of the team right now is team defense and special teams. He was frustrated at the lack of buy-in from not just Chara, but the entire defensive core. He specifically mentioned McAvoy, Carlo, and Miller.

Chara, for his part, didn't disagree too much with his coach.

"I think defensively, we have to be better," he said. "Especially this time of year...everybody is improving their game. I think we have to make sure we tighten up."

The Bruins have lost five of their last six, but defense doesn’t seem to be the problem. The Bruins only gave up one 5v5 goal last night, and 2.2 per hour since the start of the skid which ranks them 9th in the league in that time frame. Not to mention, the Bruins have given up the least amount of shot attempts per hour, and rank third in scoring chances against per hour in the same time frame.

Bruins fans will be quick to mention that Heinen couldn’t handle a pass from David Krejci with a wide-open net in front of him. The puck was on edge, and it was an amazing pass by Krejci, but hard to handle. Outside of that chance, the Bruins didn’t produce much offense Thursday night, limiting them to two goals.

If the defensemen stop activating in the offensive zone, as Cassidy threatened, things will only get worse. The Bruins got burnt on a low-to-high play, leading to a breakaway and penalty shot for the Flyers. Rather than moving the puck away from the Flyers coverage, the Bruins moved into it. Moore couldn’t quite handle the pass at first which gave the Flyers forward time to close in and make Moore’s decision to shoot look even worse.

I would expect to see Grzelcyk back in the lineup against Washington. We may see some changes on how the defensemen will play in the offensive zone next game as well. It seems that at this point, Cassidy is frustrated and is looking for the Bruins leadership to step up.