By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Tampa Bay Lightning needed just 15 seconds to capture Game 3 and a series lead over the Boston Bruins.
It started with an Ondrej Palat power-play shot off Zdeno Chara’s stick and through Jaroslav Halak, and concluded with a Yanni Gourde top-shelf finish on Halak on the very next shift.
Unsurprisingly, Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy had an issue with how those 15 seconds played out for his club. More specifically, Cassidy had an issue with the bad breaks that clearly went against his team and propelled their spiral into a nightmare Game 3 loss.
It started with Nick Ritchie’s slash on Patrick Maroon.
This call on Ritchie in the same period where Maroon wasn’t assessed a single penalty for whipping John Moore in front of the Boston net down after a whistle. (This, of course, as merely getting involved in a post-whistle scrum was deemed worthy of a penalty just three days prior. Consistency? In this league? You’re crazy.)
“A call on Ritchie [that] happens 100 times a game, we happen to get flagged for it, right?” Cassidy offered. “Complete disagreement with that particular infraction, not even sure what Brandon’s was. So, you’ve got an official injecting themselves into a game with two of the best teams in the National Hockey League [and] I thought that wasn’t necessary, personally.
“But, that’s his decision, he’s here for a reason.”
The Bruins can live with a bad break.
…Then came a linesman running a clear-as-day pick on Jeremy Lauzon with Lauzon in pursuit of Gourde.
“Second goal… I mean come on,” Cassidy said. “The linesman runs our D out of room. Good for Yanni Gourde for taking advantage of a break given to him. But I mean, when do you see that play happen in the National Hockey League?”
(For the record, I’ve only seen this one other time in my time watching this team. It happened to Dennis Wideman during his 2009-10 season from hell. That goal counted all the same as it did now. It’s just brutal luck. And although you understand the obvious issue of his positioning, it’s infuriating that the linesman decided that his best course of action to get out of play was to get out of Gourde’s way but also throw himself closer to the middle of the ice.)
Nevertheless, these bad breaks weren’t the reasons why the Bruins lost. They surrendered another five (five!) goals before the night’s end for their worst postseason loss in 28 years, and though it did put the Bruins in what felt like a preventable hole in rapid-fire fashion, Cassidy was more perturbed by his team’s lack of a pushback in any realm.
“Rest of the game, we didn’t respond,” Cassidy admitted after the loss. “Like I said, the disappointing part about that is that we weren’t able to get ourselves back in the game by killing any further penalties or creating offense or having our pushback.
“That’s what we lacked tonight for whatever reason.”
But you have to wonder if this is Cassidy finally playing the game in search of breaks going Boston’s way. We all saw how that worked out for Craig Berube in last year’s Stanley Cup Final (Berube made his comments after a blowout Game 3 loss, too), and it even worked for the Hurricanes’ Rod Brind’Amour to some degree in this year’s first-round series meeting.
And at this point, with the Bolts controlling play for almost eight straight periods, you can’t fault him for trying.
The Bruins will look to even this series at 2-2 on Friday night.
Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. 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.