Back in November in a game against the Ottawa Senators at the TD Garden, Taylor Hall was not seen much on the ice in the third period. In the first period, he had a defensive zone turnover that led to a goal, then in the third period, he took an offensive zone penalty with just under nine minutes remaining in the game and the Boston Bruins holding on to a 3-2 lead. Fortunately for Hall, his teammates killed the Senators’ sixth opportunity of the night and let Boston escape with a one-goal victory.
After being sat on the bench for pretty much the remainder of the game, Hall was called out by coach Bruce Cassidy following the game and the veteran responded well to the message the Bruins sixth-year coach sent. Now, it appears to be Trent Frederic’s turn to get the message from Cassidy.
Frederic Took Bad Penalty Against Blues
With just under six minutes remaining in the second period against the St. Louis Blues Tuesday night and holding onto a 2-1 lead, Frederic attempted to hit Vladimir Tarasenko and the Bruins’ left wing ended up bouncing off of Tarasenko and on the ice. After the whistle, a scrum ensued and when the dust settled, Frederic ended up with a two-minute roughing minor. The result for Frederic was not as good as it was for Hall five months ago.
Former Bruin Torey Krug tied the game with a power play goal against his former team, before Tarasenko got the last laugh by breaking a 2-2 tie late in the second period, before adding an insurance goal midway through the third for what turned out to be an insurmountable 4-2 lead, which turned out to be the final. Just like that, the Bruins lost momentum, a one-goal lead, and the game with that ill-advised penalty on Frederic.
Like Hall in November, Frederic did not see much of the ice following his penalty in the second period and Cassidy was clearly not happy after the game.
“It’s just not intelligent hockey. … We’ve got to be smarter, plain and simple.’’
Cassidy is right. With a one-goal lead in the second period on one of the hottest teams in the NHL which has an excellent power play, Frederic has to be smarter. The Bruins are fighting the Tampa Bay Lightning for the third Atlantic Division playoff spot while hanging onto the first Eastern Conference wild card spot, so points with nine games remaining in the regular season are at a premium. St. Louis scored 34 seconds into the game, but the Black and Gold responded with two goals by Patrice Bergeron and Marc McLaughlin for a 2-1 lead. That penalty changed the momentum of the game.
Frederic Needs to Get Cassidy’s Message
When the Bruins selected Frederic 29th overall in the first round of the 2016 Entry Draft, it raised some eyebrows, to say the least. He became a full-time NHL player last season on the fourth line and was out there sticking up for his teammates and being a “young enforcer” to make a name for himself. Since Jan. 1 this season, things have been different for the former University of Wisconsin player.
Frederic was placed on the third line with Charlie Coyle and Craig Smith. Coyle was struggling as the second-line center and Smith was struggling to provide any offense as a top-six right wing. When the trio was put together, they took off and became a valuable piece to the Bruins’ run in the second half of the season. They were supplying offense from all three players and the case could have been made in some games that they were Boston’s best line. When injuries occurred in the top-six or suspensions happened, Cassidy neer broke up that line, keeping them together because of how well they had meshed together. They made the Black and Gold a three-line team and tough to play against.
That line will be broken up Thursday night against the Senators at the TD Garden as Cassidy announced Thursday morning that Frederic would be a healthy scratch. It’s clear why he’s a healthy scratch, his effort and mistake against the Blues were not in the best interest of the team. Frederic is not the first (ask Jake DeBrusk), or will he be the last player that will be a healthy scratch in a game following a decision that hurt the team. Cassidy said it should be a “quick reset” for Frederic, but we all know why he’s out.
The Bruins need Frederic to get the message from Cassidy by sitting on the ninth floor against the Senators. Boston is a better team when they have all three lines producing and playing the way they have for the most part since Jan. 1. Is Frederic going to be on the ice in late-game situations in the playoffs and the Bruins trailing by a goal? No, but they benefit from his physical play, the connection that he has gained with Coyle and Smith, and just how the third line could be a difference-maker in the playoffs. Tonight’s third line is expected to be Tomas Nosek, Coyle, and Smith.
Boston has been without David Pastrnak since April 4 and there is no timetable on when he returns. Veterans are taking maintenance days late in the season in between games and the defense is hit hard with injuries. Frederic needs to be smarter and not be a healthy scratch in game No. 73 because he lost his cool after being on the wrong end of a hit and retaliating. Take the hit, store it in the memory bank and move on.
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.