During his six seasons behind the Boston Bruins bench, coach Bruce Cassidy has never been afraid to send a message to any of his players. It doesn’t matter if you’re a forward, defenseman, or goaltender, he’ll send a message. It doesn’t matter if you’re a rookie or a veteran, he’ll send a message. It doesn’t matter if you wear an ‘A’ or a ‘C’, he’ll still send a message.
The message can come in many different ways from Cassidy. He will pull players from shifts during a game, or he will call you out in a press conference. He might even do both. Regardless of how he tries to send the message, one thing is clear, either you receive it or you don’t.
Hall Received Latest Message
Tuesday night against the Ottawa Senators was not one of Taylor Hall’s greatest nights wearing the Black and Gold. In the first period, he had a turnover in the Bruins end which lead to Zach Sanford scoring just 1:14 into the game. Not a great start against a team that was riding a four-game losing streak. Giving an opponent confidence like that is the last thing Boston can afford early in a game.
Fast forward two periods later and the Bruins nursing a 3-2 lead. Aggressively forechecking Ottawa’s Erik Brannstrom, Hall was called for a hooking penalty as the Senators’ defenseman was carrying the puck out of the defensive zone. Luckily for Boston’s second-line left wing, his teammates and goalie Jeremy Swayman killed the penalty, but it was a case of too little too late for Cassidy’s liking.
After playing his next shift with linemates Charlie Coyle and Craig Smith after coming out of the penalty box, Hall would not be seen again in the game on the TD Garden ice. Instead, Jake DeBrusk, who himself was on the wrong side of Cassidy last season and was a healthy scratch multiple times, finished the game with Coyle and Smith on the second line. Following the game in his press conference, Cassidy did not hold back on why he limited Hall’s time-on-ice to 11:26 in the Bruins’ sixth victory of the season.
“Turnover at the blue line when you have the lead in the third. We’re all trying to buy in to play behind their D unless you allow a free pass to get through there. It’s just winning hockey. You want to play winning hockey. It doesn’t matter who you are on the team and he got away from that.”Bruce Cassidy
This is not the first time this season that Cassidy has made a reference about winning or losing hockey with his club. In a 6-3 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Oct. 20 at the Wells Fargo Center, Cassidy called out his team for playing “Losing Hockey’ following an uninspired performance that led to odd-man rushes and left goalie Jeremy Swayman to fend for himself and surrender a career-high five goals. The Bruins also took some ill-advised penalties that led Philadelphia to score on both of their power play chances (the last one was into an empty net as the Bruins pulled Swayman for an extra attacker).
Bruins Need Hall to Get the Message
When the Bruins acquired Hall from the Buffalo Sabres at last April’s trade deadline, he was everything they had hoped for. In 16 games, he had eight goals and six assists. His arrival gave the Bruins a producing line behind their top-line which carried them into the playoffs. This season, David Krejci is gone after deciding to continue his career in his home country of the Czech Republic and that leaves Coyle in the middle of the second line.
General manager Don Sweeney and the organization brought Hall back on a four-year, $24 million contract. Aside from the struggles against the Senators, Hall has been good for Boston with three goals and four assists through the first 10 games, including an assist on Derek Forbort’s second-period goal against Ottawa. His effort has been there at both ends of the ice. He has taken up shop on the first power play unit in front of the net.
It’s no secret that Brad Marchand has carried the Bruins offensively early in the season, with Patrice Bergeron getting hot in the last week. While that is all well and good, along with David Pastrnak, Hall is the next Bruins forward that they need to be on the ice and a factor, as he is a big key to the 2021-22 Black and Gold. Sitting the final 10 minutes of the third period when his teammates a holding onto a one-goal lead on the bench is not the place they want him.
Scott Roche covers the Boston Bruins for The Hockey Writers. A frequent user of the Oxford comma. Scott has been a sports writer for 25 years for different sites and daily newspapers. Writing started out as a hobby, but it has become a passion for Scott over the years.