In this edition of Boston Bruins Weekly, we take a look back at a winless road trip that the Black and Gold had, Bruce Cassidy’s line shuffling, another milestone reached and more.
Bruins Forgettable Two-Game Road Trip
When the NHL schedule was released, their early two-game road trip to play the Florida Panthers and Carolina Hurricanes on back-to-back nights was one that coach Bruce Cassidy knew would be an early measuring stick to see where his club stacked up. Two games, 24 hours apart against two of the top teams in the Eastern Conference would be the first big test for the Black and Gold early in 2021-22. Things didn’t go very well for Cassidy and his team.
The Bruins were outscored, 7-1, combined in the two games and neither game was very close to being won by Boston. How bad were things for the visitors in the two games? The one goal they scored was by Charlie Coyle and it was only scored because of a lucky bounce. Coyle’s pass from behind the Panthers’ net deflected off of Florida’s Owen Tippett and into the net.
That was the only shot that got by Florida goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, who stopped the other 30 Bruins shots. The next night, Boston fired 33 shots at Carolina goalie and former Toronto Maple Leafs netminder Frederik Andersen, who stopped each one in a 3-0 Hurricanes victory. Trailing 2-0 in the third period, the Bruins had 1:01 of time on a two-man advantage and a golden chance to get back in the game with their power play, but came up empty, something that Cassidy knew ended up being one of the differences between the teams after the game.
“We just haven’t gotten the end results,” Cassidy said. “(Carolina) pressed hard. They’re a good penalty-killing team, but we had to finish the 5-on-3. One went by the back post and (Taylor) Hall missed a bunny, a tip-in. I still think we’re turning down some shots that we typically get from the right elbow from (David Pastrnak) that plays into the bumper to (Patrice Bergeron). The shot tips we typically make were not as clean.”Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy
The Bruins salvaged the week on Oct. 30 with a 3-2 shootout victory over the Panthers, ending their eight-game winning streak to begin the season. Florida has failed to score the game’s first goal in three of their first nine games, with the Bruins and Coyle doing it twice in four days. In the first game, the Bruins were not able to win the game, but the second time they did, with Coyle scoring the deciding goal in the shootout, after a Charlie McAvoy power play goal in the third period tied the game, ending an 0-for-9 stretch on the man advantage.
Cassidy Shuffles Lines
One thing Cassidy has not been afraid to do during his tenure as Bruins coach is to move around his forward lines or defensive pairings in the middle of a game. Recently, he has mixed and matched his blueliners a couple of times in a game and hinted that it was matchup related. Saturday night against the Panthers, Cassidy did not waste too much time in tinkering with his top-six forwards.
David Pastrnak was dropped to the second line with Taylor Hall and Coyle, while Craig Smith was bumped up to the first line with Brad Marchand and Bergeron. Following the game, Cassidy gave his reason for the move.
“I just thought we were mismanaging pucks in the neutral zone. It wasn’t necessarily anything Pasta (did.) Just the line has been a little bit quiet or snakebitten lately,” he told reporters. “So you try things to get more of a forechecking presence on there with Smitty, a guy that they know will go work and get pucks, because I thought that was the way we needed to play tonight. … It seemed like after the first, we were better.”Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy
After watching his team score one goal in their two-game road trip and only scoring once in the first period against Florida on Oct. 30, it was surprising that Cassidy did not make the move sooner. Scoring from the first line to the fourth line has been an issue the Black and Gold has been dealing with early in the season. Expect the line shuffling to continue until Boston finds some offense with the right combinations.
Hall Reaches Milestone
Hall reached a milestone in the Bruins shootout win over the Panthers on Oct. 30. On Coyle’s first period goal, Hall collected his 600th career point with the primary assist. Hall also collected a second assist in the game and the 371st of his career on McAvoy’s third-period power play goal that tied the game. Reaching 600 career points in 687 career NHL games is an impressive feat for Hall, who has not exactly been on very good teams for part of his career.
The Week Ahead
- Thursday: vs. Detroit Red Wings, 7 p.m.
- Saturday: at Toronto Maple Leafs, 7 p.m.
- Tuesday: vs. Ottawa Senators, 7 p.m.
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.