Secondary scoring sparks shorthanded Bruins
With David Krejci, Ryan Spooner, Noel Acciari and David Backes all out of the lineup due to different ailments, the Bruins offensive depth is being tested into the second month of the 2017-18 season. Because of this, head coach Bruce Cassidy and company have been left playing the mix and match game with the Bruins’ group of forwards.
With the Golden Knights making their TD Garden debut Thursday evening, Cassidy’s mix and match game was an interesting one. Putting all his eggs in one basket, Cassidy frontloaded his top line with Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak.
With the Bruins rolling out such a top-heavy trio, their depth on the following three lines was one to squirm at. But as a tightly contested game rolled on and the Bergeron line dominated, it was the Bruins secondary scoring and squeamish depth that did all the goal scoring.
Riley Nash and Sean Kuraly’s first goals of the season were all the Bruins needed to pick up the win and extend their point streak to six straight games.
“We’re trying to impose a certain hard to play against, manage the puck, no easy chances against. So in effect, you are taking away a bit of their creativity, which is something in the past we’ve tried to let that flourish. It becomes a steep learning curve if you’re learning every night because of that,” Cassidy told the media postgame.
“So we have tempered a bit of the – let’s play more of a north-south game. Until we get our feet under us, figure out exactly what we are in those three lines. And we are starting to see a bit of that because, in fairness, we haven’t been a full lineup from day one.”
No, the Bruins have not had a full lineup yet, but the young, inexperienced forward group has done a good job weathering the storm thus far.
As a whole, the Bergeron line was by far the Bruins best despite failing to appear on the scoresheet. The trio combined for seven shots, numerous scoring chances and hit a pair of posts. But, with his top trio unsuccessful in lighting the lamp, Cassidy saw others step up and lead the way offensively.
In particular, Cassidy was pleased to see Kuraly step up with what was the game-winning goal.
“But, it was good to see Sean get rewarded. He’s certainly more than willing to go to those areas [the net]. Those are the type of goals he’s going to score; he’s not a guy who’s going to come down the wing and inside-out someone generally and blast it in,” said Cassidy. “He’ll track pucks down, loose pucks, breakaways, second chances. So, good for him.”
Like Schaller, Nash has stepped up and helped fill the void of the Bruins’ missing forwards. Cassidy likes that Nash is becoming more responsible with the puck in all three zones.
For Nash, he’s been bouncing up and down the lineup as different players come and go. All he can do is adjust on the fly and try to contribute any way he can.
“Yeah, a little bit. I think each game I’ve had a guy I’ve played with before so that kind of helps, you know, a little bit of their tendencies,” Nash told the press in the locker room afterwards. “But, it’s just one of those things – you try to play the system as well as possible and then from there you kind of read off the other guy and get to know their tendencies, where they’re going to be on the ice.”
For one night, the Bruins depth on the ice was a benefit; they hope it remains that way as they battle through injuries.