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)

Even after a 2-1 overtime victory in Chicago, capped by a game-winning dagger from defenseman Matt Grzelcyk, Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy couldn’t hide his frustration with an officiating crew that put them in that spot in the first place.

“We were just finally able to get one in overtime there to win 3-1,” Cassidy said in the first question thrown his way after the win. “I didn’t like the call at all. I’ve watched it 10 times and I still don’t see where there’s interference.”

And while it’s obvious that no coach likes to see goals wiped off the board, it’s hard to think Cassidy is in the wrong here.

As the B’s third line stormed towards the Blackhawks’ Marc-Andre Fleury, Craig Smith drives towards the net front in an effort to provide a screen against Fleury. (That was probably the Bruins’ best bet in a night where Fleury went with a wire-to-wire stand-on-his-head performance.) On that drive, however, Blackhawks defenseman Riley Stillman clearly blows a tire and initiates contact with Fleury, which takes the Chicago netminder out of the equation.

Ruled no goal on the ice, Cassidy and the Bruins issued what they felt was a true can’t lose challenge.

The NHL, however, saw things differently.

“Video review confirmed the actions of Boston’s Craig Smith impaired goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury’s ability to play his position prior to Charlie Coyle’s goal,” the NHL’s ‘situation room’ said in an email. “The decision was made in accordance with Rule 69.1, which states in part, ‘Goals should be disallowed only if: (1) an attacking player, either by his positioning or by contact, impairs the goalkeeper’s ability to move freely within his crease or defend his goal.'”

As always, we can confirm that those are indeed words.

“I see their guy going into their goalie,” Cassidy said. “I think [Smith] might have touched his blocker — and that’s a might — and that was before the shot and didn’t affect [Fleury]’s ability to play the position, in my opinion.

“I thought it was a good goal all day long.”

That’s why he didn’t think twice about issuing that challenge so late in a tied game.

“Typically, I wouldn’t challenge it with five minutes to go, but I just thought it was so obvious that it was a goal that they just mistook maybe Smith for their guy who slid into [Fleury]. Their own player, No. 61. We didn’t affect No. 61’s path to the goalie. He kind of turned and pivoted and lost his footing,” Cassidy noted. “So, for me, I just thought that’s that one they would [overturn]. The National Hockey League’s always looking for more offense, and I thought certainly that was a good goal.”

The problem, of course, remains the fact that nobody seems to know what the hell actually constitutes goaltender interference in 2022. I mean, they didn’t know in 2021, 2020, or even 2018 for that matter, either, so at least they’re consistent? But coaches and players alike are left to constantly wonder how the standard will shift on a game-to-game basis.

“I imagine at some point, [I’ll] make a phone call to find out what exactly they saw, but I don’t think it’ll matter, to be honest with you,” Cassidy admitted. “I discussed it quickly with the ref after, just what he thought or how the process was in a cordial manner with one of the officials. He kind of talked me through a little bit of their process. I don’t want to get into it all.

“But at the end of the day, it didn’t hurt us.”

Now just imagine the frustration if they didn’t grab two points?

Here are some other thoughts and notes from a 2-1 win over the Blackhawks…

  • Mar 15, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Boston Bruins goaltender Linus Ullmark (35) practices before the game against the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center. (Mike Dinovo/USA TODAY Sports)

    Bruins happy to see Linus Ullmark win goalie duel vs. Fleury

    Blackhawks netminder Marc-Andre Fleury did absolutely everything he could to will Chicago to victory Tuesday night.

    In an effort that included a season-high 46 saves from Fleury, the Blackhawks delivered just one goal of support at the other end, as the Bruins’ Linus Ullmark snapped his two-game losing streak and captured the win with a 19-of-20 performance. The Bruins liked what they saw from Ullmark, too, in what felt like your classic quantity vs. quality head-to-head.

    “Both goalies played very well,” Cassidy said after the duel at the United Center. “Obviously, Fleury had more action and had to be a little more on his toes, but those are tough games for Ullmark as well when you don’t see shots for a while and then they come down and they got [Alex] DeBrincat or [Patrick] Kane ripping one from the slot.”

    If we’re going off how the last month plus has played out, it’s become clear that Jeremy Swayman has the edge as the team’s playoff starter. He’s certainly earned that based off how he’s performance for the last 45 days or so. But the Bruins also know they’re going to need to be able to lean on Ullmark down the stretch, and Tuesday was certainly one of his more composed outings, as he didn’t create any additional problems or stress for himself with the 20 shots he did face.

    “[Ullmark] was under control,” Cassidy noted. “He seemed square to all the shots. He was tracking them well. I thought he was ready to recover. They don’t take a high volume fo shots. They were trying to run some backdoor tips once they got possession in the O-zone, some high movement looking for some different looks, but he was able to track it. He seems more comfortable. All those little things to stay in the game, I think help a goalie when you’re not seeing a lot of shots.”

    Ullmark also came up big on the timely save front, as he denied Kirby Dach’s breakaway bid to keep it even.

    As for Fleury, it’ll be interesting to see what happens with the pending free agent who clearly still has it. Right now, the belief around the league is that Fleury will not waive his no-movement clause to go to the goalie-starved Maple Leafs. That’s something the Bruins have to be happy to hear after what they went through on Tuesday night.

  • Mar 15, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Boston Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk (48) reacts after making the game winning goal in overtime against the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center. (Mike Dinovo/USA TODAY Sports)

    Grzzy F baby and the F is for Finisher

    A nice finish for Matt Grzelcyk in this one, and man, did he need it.

    Skating in just his second game back in action after missing two games with an upper-body injury and illness — and it’s been an up-and-down year with a few too many injuries for everyone’s liking — Grzelcyk was whistled for a first-period interference penalty that was just straight-up ugly and nearly gave a goal to the Blackhawks with a second-period pass right to the slot.

    But Grzelcyk rebounded and score the game-winning marker. The Bruins are going to need Grzelcyk down the stretch here, both to remain upright and help stabilize that second pairing opposite Brandon Carlo.

    And the proof is in the numbers for the Bruins, really, as they are now 11-1-0 in Grzelcyk’s last 12 games with at least one point.

  • Feb 17, 2022; Elmont, New York, USA; Boston Bruins left wing Taylor Hall (71) celebrates his goal against the New York Islanders during the first period at UBS Arena. (Dennis Schneidler/USA TODAY Sports)

    Taylor Hall’s adventurous evening

    Bit of a scary moment for Bruins winger Taylor Hall in this contest, as he took a Cory Stillman skate right to the head on Patrice Bergeron’s power-play goal. I mean, it was a borderline kick, honestly. That didn’t stop Hall from a quick celebration to the right of the Chicago net before his brain basically told him, ‘Actually, this kind of sucks and I don’t like the way it feels.’

    The good news is that Hall, who actually took a skate to the face in a brutal-looking accident during a pregame warmup back in Jan. 2012, did not miss any time and came back to provide the primary helper on the Grzelcyk winner.

    That was a hell of a sequence, too, as it appeared that Hall faked the Hawks into thinking he was going for a line change, which got the Blackhawks to converge on David Pastrnak in an attempted two-on-one smother before Pastrnak fed it to a revved-up Hall with nothing but ice in front of him. Just a sick move to finish off an electric puck-movement sequence from that trio.