By Kevin Flanagan
BSD Bruins Senior Writer
To say the sky is falling on Causeway Street is a bit of a stretch, but due to their lack of secondary scoring and focus leading up to and following the NHL’s silly bye week, there are certainly heavy clouds gathering and the wind is picking up.
Due to their lack of focus and execution, the Bruins dropped their second game in as many weeks – and fifth out of their last six – to the suddenly surging Philadelphia Flyers, and head coach Bruce Cassidy has seen enough of the Keystone Kops that his offensively challenged crew has looked at times over this rough stretch.
When asked about his team essentially shooting itself in their collective foot following the 3-2 overtime loss at TD Garden on Thursday night, Cassidy was quick to call out his defense.
“Yeah, I’d sum it up that way, again. Listen, give Philly credit. They’re playing well. They’ve won now six in a row. They’re doing things they need to do to win, but more self-inflicted damage from the backend tonight. Very disappointed, that group, the ability to identify what’s going on, time, and score,” said the Bruins bench boss.
“To give up a breakaway in the last minute, get caught up the ice. They gave up a two-on-one to [Claude] Giroux. Same thing earlier, they get caught. We have to fix it. The guys have to decide if they’re going to play the right way and buy in and understand what we are right now. If we’re scoring five goals a night you get a little different animal. You can overlook some of those things. We’re not in that position right now. Hopefully, we are at some point, but we’re not there right now.”
And while it almost certainly wasn’t intended that way, Cassidy’s comments about how important defense is to his team right now given the lack of goal scorers general manager Don Sweeney has given him to work with this season is right on point.
When you factor in that of the 147 goals the Black and Gold have scored this season, 65 of them have come from members – Patrice Bergeron (16 goals in 35 games played), Brad Marchand (19 G in 50 GP), and David Pastrnak (30 G in 51 GP) – of the best forward group in the NHL for the second straight year, it doesn’t take a stats geek to see that Butch’s remaining bunch score less than a pimple-faced college freshman at his first frat party most nights.
And while everyone who has paid any attention to the Bruins this season can point out their lack of consistent secondary scoring, perhaps the most disturbing part of their play since the New Year turned is their lack of focus. For the first time in Cassidy’s two year tenure, it seems like some of his players have tuned out their coach.
If that is, in fact, the case Cassidy and his coaching staff have a much bigger problem than complacency as the race to the playoffs begins in earnest the last two-plus months of the season.
For as it is imperative that the Bruins brass adds to was is a good team – but currently far from a true Stanley Cup contender as constituted – it is just as important that the head coach gets his squad focused for what promises to be an extended fight for postseason positioning down the stretch.
If the coaching staff can’t do that, whatever Sweeney does at the swiftly approaching trade deadline on or before February 25th, won’t mean much.