Zdeno Chara was the only healthy member of the B's top four defense in this series. (Greg M.</p>
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The Bruins' season ended with a Game 6 overtime loss Sunday. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins’ season ended with a Game 6 overtime loss Sunday. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

On the surface, squeezing into the playoffs and losing a first-round series against a mediocre Ottawa Senators team doesn’t look like much to be proud of. But head coach Bruce Cassidy is proud of his team and Bruins players are proud of themselves, and they should be.

We’ll never know what a healthy Bruins team could’ve done this postseason (the guess here is beat the Senators and maybe beat the Rangers in the next round), because we didn’t get to see it.

They didn’t have Torey Krug and Brandon Carlo, two of their top three defensemen, all series. They lost Adam McQuaid, another regular defenseman and regular penalty-killer, early in Game 2.

A fourth regular defenseman, Colin Miller, missed two games due to injury. Second-line center David Krejci missed the first two games, didn’t look like himself when he returned, then got hurt again early in Game 5 and missed the rest of the series.

Those aren’t excuses for losing the series; they’re legitimate reasons (among others) for losing it. We can debate just how much those injuries hurt the Bruins, but there’s no question they did hurt.

“I think it was apparent to everybody that we weren’t at full strength, and guys had to step up, and we talked about it,” Cassidy said. “Other guys got an opportunity. I thought they did very well. So yeah, I’m proud of the guys’ effort from Feb. 9 on. We put ourselves in a position to be here in the first place. I think we played well enough to have the opportunity to advance, but they made a few more plays than us. Every game could have went either way. So, I’m proud of the players.”

What the Bruins should be proud of is how guys stepped up and made this a competitive series despite the injuries. Guys made mistakes (seriously, stop shooting the puck over the glass) and the team as a whole hit some tough stretches, but it really never looked like the Bruins were lacking effort.

Obviously the biggest positive in terms of guys stepping up was defenseman Charlie McAvoy, who made his NHL debut in Game 1, played huge minutes throughout the series and more than held his own as a top-pairing defenseman.

But there was also Kevan Miller and Joe Morrow, who stepped into top-four roles, played far more minutes than they did in the regular season and helped the Bruins’ defense perform better than anyone probably expected.

Up front, Noel Acciari, Riley Nash and Dominic Moore basically played top-six minutes and got some of the toughest matchups of the series, including a lot of Erik Karlsson. Sean Kuraly stepped into the lineup and scored two huge goals in Game 5, including the overtime winner. Drew Stafford scored twice. Tim Schaller scored a goal and got bumped up into the top six a couple times. David Backes played some of his best hockey of the season.

It might be tempting to say the top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak underperformed, and you probably would’ve liked a couple more goals from them for sure. But each of them still ended up with four points in the series and they were very good by pretty much any other measure, be it shots on goal, shot attempts or Corsi.

The problem, as outlined here, is that those three went a bit cold at times and there was no other consistently reliable source of offense. But that’s not the fault of the guys who were trying to provide that offense. A lot of guys were asked to play bigger roles than they probably should have been playing, and most of them did about as well as anyone could’ve reasonably expected.

“Very proud of everyone,” Bergeron said. “A lot of guys came in the lineup with not much experience and were asked to play a different role and they did it. It was impressive to see that and it was next man up every time and I think it was great experience for the young guys for sure.”

Looking ahead, you probably have to be pretty encouraged when it comes to the defense. When you add Krug and Carlo to what you saw this series, especially from McAvoy, you start to have the makings of a defense corps that actually looks pretty solid.

But up front, this series helped highlight a lack of finishers. All those depth guys mentioned above — Nash, Moore, Acciari, Kuraly, Schaller — they’re just that: depth guys. They’re good fourth-liners who can pass as serviceable third-liners, and a few of them are good penalty-killers, but they’re not second-liners and it’s not fair to expect consistent scoring from them, which is what this Bruins team would’ve needed to make a deep run.

So yeah, Cassidy and the players should be proud of their showing in this series. But the Bruins’ front office should realize that there’s work to be done in order to take another step forward next season.

Blog Author: 
Scott McLaughlin

Chalk it up to bad luck if you want, but there’s no doubt that the Bruins were a dead team walking and en route to their third straight playoff miss when Bruce Cassidy replaced Claude Julien in February.

Bruins interim head coach Bruce Cassidy wants to return next season. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Bruins interim head coach Bruce Cassidy wants to return next season. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Chalk it up to bad luck if you want, but there’s no doubt that the Bruins were a dead team walking and en route to their third straight playoff miss when Bruce Cassidy replaced Claude Julien in February.

Still, the decision to give Cassidy the keys to the Bruins and for his first NHL coaching gig since 2003 was a risk and a half for Bruins general manager Don Sweeney, but one that ultimately paid off as Cassidy helped lead the Bruins to an 18-8-1 record to finish the regular season and to their first playoff berth since 2014’s Presidents’ Trophy season.

And while the ending was not one that the Bruins wanted, as the Senators eliminated them by way of a Game 6 overtime win at TD Garden on Sunday, Cassidy has his backers in the Boston room.

“The results speak for themselves,” Bruins forward David Backes said of Cassidy’s tenure. “We were climbing uphill when he took over and we made our way in. It wasn’t easy. We had to streak some games together, we lost a couple that we really needed, and in the end we were really pull together as a group.

“I don’t know how you make an argument against [keeping him].”

Under Cassidy, the Bruins scored the fourth-most goals in the NHL (91) and allowed the second-fewest goals against (62).

As Backes said, the results did the talking in regards to Cassidy’s future in Boston, but he himself pumped the brakes when asked about any changes that the team will have to make for more success come this time next season.

“That will be determined going forward by management whether I continue to be the head coach and what players will be here will be determined by management. So, it’s a tough question to answer,” Cassidy said. “I think we scored some goals this year. We were good on the rush as well and the power play, we’ve gone back to February, and we were always a good forechecking team.”

As for if he wants to be back, Cassidy made it known with his final postgame question of the season.

“Absolutely,” Cassidy said without hesitation when asked if he wants to return as the coach next year. “100 percent.”

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson

The Bruins’ playoff run came to an end Sunday with 3-2 overtime loss in Game 6 against the Senators. WEEI’s Ty Anderson and Scott McLaughlin broke down the game and discussed the Bruins’ season as a whole and whether or not it was a success. Watch below.

Blog Author: 
WEEI

The Bruins were more than lucky to escape the first period of their must-win Game 6 against the Senators with a lead to their name. But that luck faded in and out, and ultimately led to their elimination, as the Sens defeated the Bruins by a 3-2 final in overtime.

Bruins Senators Noel Acciari Game 6

The Bruins and Senators skated in Game 6 at TD Garden on Sunday. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins were more than lucky to escape the first period of their must-win Game 6 against the Senators with a lead to their name. But that luck faded in and out, and ultimately led to their elimination, as the Sens defeated the Bruins by a 3-2 final in overtime.

A day and a half after the Bruins simply survived a double-overtime Game 5 in Ottawa, the Bruins shot themselves in the foot just 17 seconds into the game when Game 5’s hero, Sean Kuraly, was whistled for a puck over the glass penalty. It was the first of three puck over the glass penalties committed by the Bruins in the opening frame.

The second came from Joe Morrow, and the third from Colin Miller. But the Bruins managed to kill all three off, and cashed in on a power play of their own when Mark Stone was called for a trip on Kuraly.

With their first unit on the ice, and as the Bruins continued to look for seams on Ottawa’s Craig Anderson, a move back for Brad Marchand forced the Sens to back off the 39-goal scorer and buy into the idea of a shot. Marchand used that to the club’s advantage, too, as he went in but then shot the puck out to Drew Stafford, who had all the time in the world to rip a bullet through Anderson top corner at the 18:13 mark of the first period for his second goal of the postseason.

The Bruins survived one more mistake in the first period, too, when Tuukka Rask came up with a stop on a Stone breakaway off a David Pastrnak turnover late in the period, and the B’s held a (perhaps undeserved) 1-0 edge through 20 minutes of play.

But the toll of a first period that taxed every B’s player with a lick of defensive zone prowess was paid in the second period.

Charlie McAvoy was called for a trip for his dangerous leg-on-leg hit to Tommy Wingels just 2:49 into the second period, and the Bruins were forced into their fourth penalty kill of the night not even 23 minutes into action.

And it was Ottawa winger Bobby Ryan, who has haunted the Bruins with timely goals all season, that connected for his fourth goal of the playoffs on a perfect deflection of a Derick Brassard shot through traffic, scored at the 3:26 mark. A period of missed passes and turnovers got worse for the B’s, too, as a Stafford defensive zone turnover put the puck back on Ottawa’s blade before Kyle Turris ripped home his first goal of the playoffs just 5:06 after they tied the game on Rask and a suddenly winded B’s group.

The Bruins were not going to go down without a fight, however, and especially not without a say from a line that’s been entirely too quiet in this series, as Colin Miller caught the Sens in a bad change and found Marchand in alone at the attacking blue line. Marchand threw a shot on net, and it was Patrice Bergeron that charged in and helped bang a rebound home for a 2-2 score.

His second goal of the series, scored less than two minutes into the third period, made it an 18-minute game.

From there, the Bruins went to a 10-man forward rotation — neither Matt Beleskey nor Frank Vatrano saw shifts — and the Bruins found great point blank chances, with none better than Noel Acciari’s clear look on Anderson shortly after the Bergeron goal.

Marchand nearly connected on a one-timer 13 minutes into the third, and 34 seconds later, the B’s were on the power play.

The Senators survived the Boston power play, and with four minutes and change, the B’s and Sens remained tied.

And after 60, with the shots favoring the B’s 30-to-23, but with the score deadlocked at 2-2, it was off to overtime. Again.

In the fourth overtime of this series, and the fourth in the last five games of the series, the 30-year-old Rask came up with two big stops early, including one that nearly flubbed off his glove and into the B’s net.

But as the Bruins were stopped at one end by Anderson, a rush up towards Rask came with a Boston penalty, as Pastrnak was called for a hold on Clarke MacArthur just as Erik Karlsson crossed over into the B’s zone. And in line with the theme of the series, it was MacArthur that scored, as the Bruins were eliminated on his power-play goal 6:30 into the overtime.

This was the first time since 1998 that the Bruins failed to win a home game in a six-game series.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson
The Bruins are winless in both home playoff games this round. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins are winless in both home playoff games this round. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

One of the biggest issues for the club prior to his appointment as the club’s interim head coach, Bruce Cassidy fixed the team’s near two-year-long home ice woes right out of the gate back in February.

Under Cassidy, the Bruins finished the year with the most home points in the NHL by way of an 11-4-1 record to finish their season, and outscored their opponents 52-to-29 at TD Garden. That plus-23 goal differential also ranked as the league’s best over that span.

But the Bruins have yet to see that success roll over into the playoffs, as they have dropped each postseason game played at home in their first round series with the Senators. They dropped a Patriots’ Day Game 3 by a 4-3 overtime final, and they then lost Game 4 by a 1-0 score. They weren’t the hometown beatdowns commonly suffered during the club’s two-year absence from postseason contention, but they still lacked the impact and strike-first mentality that became the status quo under Cassidy.

Another home loss would make this the first series since 1998’s first round series loss to the Capitals that they had three home playoff dates and did not win a single one. And they do not have the luxury of another home loss either, by the way, as they come into this game trailing 3-2 in this series. And after a roller coaster of a Game 5, and with the Garden expected to be absolutely deafening for today’s tilt, the Bruins know that emotion is something they can use to their advantage in this game.

“I’ll be the first to tell you, it was an emotional game as far as the coaching situation goes,” Cassidy said of Game 5 and coming into today. “A lot of highs and lows throughout the course of the game, and we need to stay calm and that starts with the head coach. So, that’s certainly something we want to do is be calm and play through whatever adversity presents itself, if any.

“But at the same token, emotion is part of the game. It’s a passionate game. It’s a violent game at times. So, there’s a certain amount of emotions that go into the game, we just have to stay on the right side of that.”

“We’re very excited, we’re obviously still in a tough spot, but we have to take it one game at a time,” Bruins winger Brad Marchand said of the team’s opportunity in Game 6. “Our crowd always gives us a big boost for emotion, so it should be fun.”

Tuukka Rask will be in net for the B’s. Rask was incredible in the B’s season-saving Game 5 victory, with 41 saves in the double-overtime win, and comes into action with a .924 save percentage for the series, including a .931 save percentage at five-on-five.

Ottawa counters with Craig Anderson. The Bruins scored three goals on 39 shots against Anderson on Friday night.

Torey Krug, although he’s skating, is not ready to return. David Krejci, who was injured in an unpenalized knee-on-knee hit from Chris Wideman in Game 5, will also be out of action for the Bruins. He will be replaced by Matt Beleskey.

In another must-win, the Bruins, who have refused to die time and time again this time, to fight for one another yet again.

“It’s just, the guy in this room..they just battle for each other,” Joe Morrow said. “Everybody loves spending time with each other, spending time with each other in the dressing room, and fighting for one another on the ice.

“It speaks for a lot for the group of guys we have here.”

Here are the expected lines and pairings for the Bruins…

Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak

Tim Schaller – Sean Kuraly – David Backes

Matt Beleskey – Dominic Moore – Riley Nash

Frank Vatrano – Noel Acciari – Drew Stafford

Zdeno Chara – Charlie McAvoy

Joe Morrow – Kevan Miller

John-Michael Liles – Colin Miller

Tuukka Rask

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson
The Bruins are winless in both home playoff games this round. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins are winless in both home playoff games this round. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

One of the biggest issues for the club prior to his appointment as the club’s interim head coach, Bruce Cassidy fixed the team’s near two-year-long home ice woes right out of the gate back in February.

Under Cassidy, the Bruins finished the year with the most home points in the NHL by way of an 11-4-1 record to finish their season, and outscored their opponents 52-to-29 at TD Garden. That plus-23 goal differential also ranked as the league’s best over that span.

But the Bruins have yet to see that success roll over into the playoffs, as they have dropped each postseason game played at home in their first round series with the Senators. They dropped a Patriots’ Day Game 3 by a 4-3 overtime final, and they then lost Game 4 by a 1-0 score. They weren’t the hometown beatdowns commonly suffered during the club’s two-year absence from postseason contention, but they still lacked the impact and strike-first mentality that became the status quo under Cassidy.

Another home loss would make this the first series since 1998’s first round series loss to the Capitals that they had three home playoff dates and did not win a single one. And they do not have the luxury of another home loss either, by the way, as they come into this game trailing 3-2 in this series. And after a roller coaster of a Game 5, and with the Garden expected to be absolutely deafening for today’s tilt, the Bruins know that emotion is something they can use to their advantage in this game.

“I’ll be the first to tell you, it was an emotional game as far as the coaching situation goes,” Cassidy said of Game 5 and coming into today. “A lot of highs and lows throughout the course of the game, and we need to stay calm and that starts with the head coach. So, that’s certainly something we want to do is be calm and play through whatever adversity presents itself, if any.

“But at the same token, emotion is part of the game. It’s a passionate game. It’s a violent game at times. So, there’s a certain amount of emotions that go into the game, we just have to stay on the right side of that.”

“We’re very excited, we’re obviously still in a tough spot, but we have to take it one game at a time,” Bruins winger Brad Marchand said of the team’s opportunity in Game 6. “Our crowd always gives us a big boost for emotion, so it should be fun.”

Tuukka Rask will be in net for the B’s. Rask was incredible in the B’s season-saving Game 5 victory, with 41 saves in the double-overtime win, and comes into action with a .924 save percentage for the series, including a .931 save percentage at five-on-five.

Ottawa counters with Craig Anderson. The Bruins scored three goals on 39 shots against Anderson on Friday night.

Torey Krug, although he’s skating, is not ready to return. David Krejci, who was injured in an unpenalized knee-on-knee hit from Chris Wideman in Game 5, will also be out of action for the Bruins. He will be replaced by Matt Beleskey.

In another must-win, the Bruins, who have refused to die time and time again this time, to fight for one another yet again.

“It’s just, the guy in this room..they just battle for each other,” Joe Morrow said. “Everybody loves spending time with each other, spending time with each other in the dressing room, and fighting for one another on the ice.

“It speaks for a lot for the group of guys we have here.”

Here are the expected lines and pairings for the Bruins…

Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak

Tim Schaller – Sean Kuraly – David Backes

Matt Beleskey – Dominic Moore – Riley Nash

Frank Vatrano – Noel Acciari – Drew Stafford

Zdeno Chara – Charlie McAvoy

Joe Morrow – Kevan Miller

John-Michael Liles – Colin Miller

Tuukka Rask

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson

Unsurprisingly, the Bruins will be without David Krejci for Sunday’s Game 6 against the Ottawa Senators at TD Garden. Boston coach Bruce Cassidy confirmed before the game that his second-line center will miss the game due to injury.