Sports 05-04-2017

Bruins Beat

by Bob Morello

 Bruins Cassidy No Longer ‘Interim’

A reflection back to Boston’s game-ending playoff run had one thing missing from Clarke MacArthur’s game-winning, series-clinching overtime goal, it was the sound of Frank Sinatra belting out the lyrics of “My Way.” The opening line would have said it all, “And now the end is near…And so I face the final curtain.” Yet, the fact remained that the season was over, and the Bruins could take solace in the fact that with their lineup, minimized by the losses of, Torey Krug (knee), Brandon Carlo (concussion), Adam McQuaid (concussion) and David Krejci (knee), they had still managed to extend the first round matchup with the Ottawa Senators to six games.

Just as they scratched and scraped for each win in the regular season to finally make the playoffs, following the coaching change from Claude Julien to Bruce Cassidy, Boston was in it all the way. Each of the six games played were decided by one goal, and overtime was needed in four of the games. But, for Boston fans, making it into the first playoff round was consolation of sorts, following two seasons of DNQ’s. The loss of three of their top defense corps hit the team hard, but the surprising discovery of Charlie McAvoy’s abilities will surely give the fans hope for the future.

The Senators played at the top of their game, shutting down the Bruins’ first line, as Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak, and Patrice Bergeron were each held to four points. In the case of Bergeron, it was revealed that he has been playing all season with a groin injury that will likely require surgery during the offseason. For the Senators, defenseman Erik Karlsson was the best player on the ice, with assists on six goals, his six points topped only by Derick Brassard (two goals, six assists leading the team with 8 points), and Bruins killer Bobby Ryan (four goals, three assists and 7 points). The amazing Karlsson led the way, mesmerized the Bruins with his slick skating and pinpoint passing, all the while playing with two hairline fractures in his left heel. Makes one wonder how much better a healthy Karlsson would’ve played.

Boston Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney last week announced that Bruce Cassidy has been named the 28th head coach of the Boston Bruins. Cassidy served as Interim Head Coach for the Bruins’ final 33 regular and postseason games, compiling an 18-8-1 regular season record and propelling the team to a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since the 2013-14 season. Since Cassidy assumed head coaching responsibilities on February 9, the Bruins ranked first in the NHL in goals per game (3.37), first in the NHL in fewest shots allowed (741), tied for second in the NHL in wins (18), tied for second in the NHL in power play percentage (27.8%), tied for third in the NHL in goals allowed per game (2.30), tied for fifth in the NHL in faceoff percentage (53.6%) and tied for sixth in the NHL in takeaways (229).

Before joining Boston as an assistant prior to the start of the 2016-17 season, Cassidy spent five seasons (2011-16) as head coach of the Providence Bruins, having spent the three previous seasons (2008-11) with the club as an assistant. The 51-year-old native of Ottawa, Ontario compiled a 207-128-45 overall record in 380 games at the helm, including winning seasons in all five years and postseason berths in each of his final four seasons in Providence. In 2015-16, Cassidy helped lead the P-Bruins to a 41-22-13 record. Well-deserved promotion for a gentleman, and coach, Bruce Cassidy!

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