By Kevin Flanagan
BSD Bruins Senior Writer
It doesn’t take a hockey savant to see that the fast start to the season for the Bruins has dulled what head coach Bruce Cassidy likes to call their “sense of urgency”.
In the same vein, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the torrid scoring stretch that Brad Marchand (18 goals, 26 assists for 44 points in 30 games) and David Pastrnak (25G, 18A for 43 PTS in the same number of games) has begun to cool to an almost mortal level in the last week.
And while both of these trends can be somewhat disconcerting, the last thing that Cassidy and the B’s brass should do is begin to panic.
There is a reason why the team that calls the barn on Causeway Street home is second in the NHL in points approaching the halfway point of the season.
This just in…they’re pretty good.
In fact, it is easy to argue that due to their place in the standings – they currently have a 13 point lead in the Atlantic Division and trail only the Washington Capitals in the Eastern Conference by three points with a game in hand – that management should be looking more at the big picture than what seems to be a bit of a lull – if you can call being 8-1-1 in their last 10 games a “lull” – over the last week or so.
As he did on Thursday night after a 4-3 overtime loss against an average, at best, Chicago Blackhawks team at the Garden – a game in which the final score was closer than the first 40 minutes-plus would indicate – Cassidy addressed his team’s recent tendency to not show up for the start of their nightly contests.
“For us, lack of urgency. We talked about it the other night, again tonight, some of that definitely in our game early on”, said the B’s bench boss.
“If we’re on our toes, I think we’re cleaner. I’m not going to say that we’re not going to execute from time to time, but it’s been an issue for us I think. Some of the unforced errors — I just look at the play, Grizz [Matt Grzelcyk] takes a hit, [Danton] Heinen goes back with the puck. If we’re playing the right way, we’re in and out of our end. We’re gone. We go back with it and all of a sudden, we win a faceoff to start a period, we ice it instead of making a play. Now we’re in our end and there’s just a lot of details that are working us against us now and we’ve just got to wake up and start playing to our abilities in those situations.”
The bottom line is Cassidy and the Bruins brass obviously know that they have a team that is more than capable to make a legitimate run for the Stanley Cup this spring. And despite the obvious complacency that has crept into their game, it is the head coach and front office’s job to exercise patience.
At the risk of continually beating a dead horse until the arrival of the NHL’s second season come next April, the biggest obstacle that stands between the Black and Gold having a rolling rally through the street of Boston next June is not their regular-season record. It is the health of their core players – specifically Patrice Bergeron – when the hardest tournament to win in professional sports begins next spring.
This Bruins team – while it will likely need an addition at, or before, the trade deadline in February to boost their secondary scoring – is among a handful of those in the NHL that should be expected to have an extended run in the postseason.
That is why they need to have discipline when it comes to nagging injuries to their aging core – Bergeron especially – so their chances of hoisting another Cup isn’t undermined by a rut in the regular season.
Follow on Twitter @KevinMFlanagan. Email at email@example.com.