By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy had no problem with the major-earning hit Nick Ritchie delivered to Tampa Bay’s Yanni Gourde late in the second period of a 3-1 Game 4 loss to the Lightning.
He did, however, have a problem with what he considered to be some theatrics from Gourde, as well as a continued double-standard when it comes to the officiating in this series.
“Clearly Gourde was down on the play, he’s a good player — a real good player for them, clever obviously — got them on the power play for five minutes, he finished the game, had no problems in the third period,” Cassidy remarked after the loss. “I didn’t agree with the call. [Karson] Kuhlman got hit by [Cedric] Paquette late in the first period, like I said, a very, very, very, very, very similar hit, no call. But I guess we’ll ask that question, find out what the thinking was.”
The insinuation on Cassidy’s part, of course, is that Gourde milked the aftermath of the hit to earn Tampa Bay an extended power-play opportunity. (The Bolts did score on the five-minute major, though it took a pop-fly at the 4:32 mark of the five-minute advantage to put Victor Hedman & Co. on the board with the Lightning’s third and final goal of the day.)
“There was no call, and then it turned into a five-minute major,” an agitated Cassidy griped. “I guess we’ll get an explanation. Or we won’t. I don’t know. I didn’t get one of why that changed.
“There was no call. He’s finishing a check, it happens all the time. He played through a player’s shoulder as I saw it. Shoulder-to-shoulder hard. I don’t know if the explanation was it was late or it was a 225-pound man hits a 170-pound man and that’s why the penalty is called. I thought Paquette did the same thing, if not worse, to Kuhlman in the first period. The standard is set. That’s what officials do: they set the standard and the players adjust to it and adapt to it game in and game out.”
This is the second postgame presser in a row where Cassidy has ripped into the officiating for leaning too heavily against the Bruins, with the slashing penalty against Ritchie in the first period of Game 3 drawing Cassidy’s ire the last time around.
“There’s been a lot of hits, big hits in this series that maybe haven’t been called and I’ve been flagged a couple times,” Ritchie remarked after the loss. “I just have to keep working and playing my game. Part of the reason why the team brought me in here is to play physical and drive the net. It’s part of my game.”
Lightning head coach Jon Cooper, meanwhile, didn’t dispel the notion that Gourde is clever, but probably not for the reasons Cassidy believed following his team’s third straight defeat.
“Well, [Gourde] is a clever player,” Cooper quipped. “No doubt about that. But I think that was a league reviewed hit, so they didn’t just make up the five minutes. There is a lot of people involved that goes into that.
“I thought the hit was late. And it’s hitting an unsuspecting opponent. I think those are the this that if you’re going to hit someone unsuspecting, you’re going to hit someone from behind or you’re going to hit somebody in the head, those are no-no’s now in the league. And Ritchie checked off a bunch of boxes there.”
“I’ve got to finish checks,” Ritchie noted. “Sometimes you get away with them.”
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.