By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy’s in-game management has always been one of his strengths.
Throughout his entire tenure behind the Boston bench, Cassidy has shown that he’s not afraid to blow a line up if it doesn’t have the jump, appears out of sync, and isn’t giving him what he wants. Cassidy could have thrown a grenade at more than a few lines in the Black and Gold’s strangely-lethargic Game 1 loss to the Maple Leafs on Thursday night. Even the team’s beloved Perfection Line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak.
But Cassidy didn’t jumble. He didn’t tinker. He didn’t do much of anything throughout an agonizing night at TD Garden.
And you kept waiting for it to happen.
It seemed worth a second-guess, or a question at the very least.
“We lost Jake [DeBrusk] for a little bit, so that affected us a little in the second, so we moved Pasta [David Pastrnak] around a little bit with [Charlie] Coyle,” Cassidy said when asked about his decision to stick with his lines throughout the majority of the night. “But we’re trying to get that top line going. We’re still in the game. Regular season is a little different than playoffs.
“You know, you’re trying to stick with it, so that’s probably the biggest reason.”
Matched up against the John Tavares line throughout Game 1, Boston’s top line had an incredibly difficult night. They didn’t have the same pop, their movement at five-on-five seemed stifled, and this was especially true for Pastrnak. Game 1 saw the man that by all means stole last year’s first-round series with some downright historic numbers looked closer to the overmatched kid he was during the B’s first-round series loss to the Ottawa Senators back in 2017.
In fact, the line Cassidy would have pulled from to make something happen in his top six — the Bruins’ third line with Charlie Coyle between Danton Heinen and Marcus Johansson — was perhaps the only line consistently creating offense. (That really wasn’t saying much given the nothingness that was the Boston attack at five-on-five play.)
“And some of the guys I usually move around – listen, I didn’t love their game, so when they’re on, move them around, double-shift them,” Cassidy acknowledged. “Couple of the guys that that’s happened to in the past, I didn’t know if it would’ve helped them, to be honest with you. Some of that in season, too, is to get their attention, reward other guys. We’re now in the playoffs. There shouldn’t be attention getting. It’s about, ‘Hey let’s get out there and be better than the guy across from you,’ so that’s part of the reason that we move guys up and down in the year.
“We might move Pasta from one line to another. We did a little bit, but like I said, I didn’t think he had his best game [Thursday], didn’t have, really, his legs under him, so for whatever reason I just didn’t use that club much tonight.”
Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. He has also been a voting member of the Boston Chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association since 2013. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter @_TyAnderson.