There is probably an old school portion of Bruce Cassidy’s mind that would have wanted to cancel Friday’s scheduled day off for his Bruin players and fix the issues that are facing it following Thursday’s concerning overtime loss to the Flyers. But that is not how today’s NHL works. These off days are mandated by the CBA and there is no touching them.
But perhaps it’s a blessing to have a day to settle down, decompress and get ready for a very tough three-games-in-four-nights against their nemeses the Washington Capitals today, the Metropolitan-leading Islanders Tuesday and Wednesday on the road against the Rangers, who sent the B’s into the bye week on a downer.
Anyway, here are few leftover notes, quotes and thoughts from Thursday’s game:
• Unless your heart is as black as coal, you’d have to feel for Danton Heinen. Right now, he’s like Ryan Spooner in reverse. Spooner could wow you with his incredible skill level but lose the majority of shifts because of a subpar battle level. Heinen, on the other hand, will work his tail off but fail when it’s time to cash in with his skill, who he proved last year he possesses.
Given a bump up to the second line in place of the quiet Peter Cehlarik late in the game, Heinen approached the opportunity with the appropriate zeal, winning puck after 50-50 puck. But when David Krejci got him the puck with an empty net staring at him, he couldn’t control the wobbling biscuit and whiffed on what could have been the game-winner.
• Cassidy’s criticism of the Zdeno Chara-Charlie McAvoy pairing’s handling of the the Flyers’ first goal in the final minute of the first period received most of the attention after the game, but the coach wasn’t too thrilled with the way John Moore got his shot blocked in the third period, leading to a breakaway and Scott Laughton’s penalty shot. Tuukka Rask stopped the freebie.
“There’s a low-to-high play where the D rolls back into pressure. That’s a play we probably practice twice a week where the puck comes from the half wall to the offside D. Most of the time the forwards on the other team are on that side of the ice. That’s the way teams play, so you roll away from it,” said Cassidy. “Maybe it changes your angle to the net. It’s not as good of an angle. It’s an off angle, but that’s where you start looking for tips. Unfortunately, we rolled right back into their coverage, shot it, got blocked... Listen, you know me, it’s on the individual. We practice that, to recognize where the coverage is, roll outside to get your shots through. It didn’t happen, and Tuukka had to bail us out on that. So again, talking about some mistakes in the back end that are increasing here, and we have to put the brakes on in a hurry. It’s up to the leaders back there, it’s up to me and it’s up to (assistant cach) Kevin Dean. We have to straighten this out now because we’re not scoring enough to get away with it.”
Moore is a good defenseman and for the first few months of the season, his five-year deal worth $2.75 million a season looked like a good one. I still feel that will be the case, but there doesn’t seem to be a good fit for him right now. Oddly enough, he played some of his best hockey this year while playing on his weak side on the right, something he hadn’t had much success with before coming here.
•It will be interesting to see if the defense pairs will be tweaked much in Saturday’s practice. There’s a good bet that Matt Grzelcyk will find his way back into the lineup, but will there be more changes? One idea would be to break up the Chara-McAvoy combo. Brandon Carlo could bump up to play with his one-time regular partner Chara to create more of a shutdown pair and McAvoy could play with his old Boston University partner Grzelcyk while keeping Torey Krug with Kevan Miller. It could give the B’s a new look yet still maintain some familiarity. Just a thought.
--Still trying to figure out how the officials missed the clear tripping on David Pastrnak in the third period. It was every bit as obvious as the Brad Marchand tripping call in overtime, which was of course correctly called and gave the Flyers the second point.
--This observer was among the doubters when the Flyers announced they were bringing up 20-year-old goalie Carter Hart, but so far it looks like he was ready for the promotion. He left the Garden with a 8-5 record, .922 save percentage and 2.48 GAA. He’s looked quite poised in both wins against the Bruins.