Boston Bruins

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - MAY 27: Head coach Bruce Cassidy of the Boston Bruins speaks to the media following his teams 4-2 win over the St. Louis Blues in Game One of the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Final at TD Garden on May 27, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Never one to sugarcoat it, Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy absolutely laid into his team for what he considered an unacceptable effort in Saturday’s 4-0 loss to the Rangers.

For Cassidy, whose team was held to a season-low 18 shots (just one away from the lowest single-game total since he took over behind the bench over four years ago), the frustrations came back to not only the effort displayed, but the lack of support below the Bruins’ top line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak.

“I think we’re going to struggle when our top line is off,” Cassidy, who at one point whipped a whiteboard at the ground as his team fumbled away one of their five power-play opportunities, said. “You know, they weren’t in sync, the power play wasn’t in sync. So, then you’re really relying on team defense. We’ve been through this where the secondary scoring still hasn’t been there consistently enough to make up for those nights. The other night it did.

“At the end of the day, I think it goes to a number of things. But however you rate those things or stack them up, it’s unacceptable. Your effort has to be there every night, effort and execution. We didn’t execute well. That’s gonna happen but the effort, it was not there with our group. And that’s atypical of this group.”

In addition to their feeble 18-shot effort (and against New York’s third-string goaltender no less), the Bruins were beat to the puck throughout the contest, and simply never seemed interested in matching the pressure put on by the Rangers. With Marchand playing hurt, and with the first line carrying this team all year long (and as always), this was a game where the Bruins needed their roleplayers to give them something tangible. Or set the tone. Or just do something.

Instead, Cassidy was delivered yet another nothing burger from the nine forwards below his top line. Moving from center to wing (and then back to center), Charlie Coyle played over 17 and a half minutes and didn’t have a single shot on goal. In fact, he didn’t even have a shot attempt to his name. Free agent addition Craig Smith has now gone eight straight games without a goal, and has found the back of the net just once in his last 16 outings overall.

As a team, the Bruins didn’t have a single high-danger chance at any strength.

“We need other people to pick us up and they got to get going,” Cassidy basically pleaded. “And I think we can look down the lineup and see some guys that could help us when that top three has an off night. We just need other people to get going and and recognize that. And that’s what good teams do. And we did not do that [Saturday].”

Cassidy also took issue with Boston’s backend failing to deliver or counter the Blueshirts’ intensity with their own while Jaroslav Halak stood on his head on an island and gave the B’s a good a chance as any goaltender could.

“I’m disappointed in how the guys played in front of [Halak],” Cassidy admitted. “We don’t have the depth [on defense] right now to not have what we call it ‘A’ and ‘B’ games. You can have a ‘B’ game. You’re not always going to have your ‘A’ game, but you better bring your your damn ‘B’ game and at least do something to help the team win, whether that’s block a shot, kill a penalty check well, et cetera. And we just didn’t have that. We were well down the alphabet after A and B.

“That’s probably the most disappointing thing today: Our complete lack of effort and pushback. You’re not going to win every game. No team does. You’re not going to look great every night. But, you know, the effort has to be there and the response [has to be there] and we didn’t have it.

The B’s will have embark on a four-game road trip, with two-game sets in Pittsburgh and then Buffalo, and will need more than their B game to stop this midseason flirtation with the playoff cutoff line.