Civian: Bruins sticking with the lineup that got them here is the right call

Sara Civian
April 25, 2018 - 12:42 pm

Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports

It’s insane to do the same thing over and over and expect different results, but that’s only if the results you seek are drastically different than what you're getting.

“The lineup was up on the board this morning,” Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said ahead of Game 7. “That’s it.”

He put Danton Heinen back in with Riley Nash and David Backes, he put Rick Nash back with David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk, and that was it.

“It’s basically the groups we had envisioned, and we trust this group to get it done,” Cassidy said. “[Heinen] has played really well for us this year and we expect him to do that tonight."

Why should these Bruins change a thing about the lineup that got them to Game 7?

If head coach Bruce Cassidy put in Ryan Donato, whose only NHL playoff experience is an underwhelming nine minutes and 24 seconds, three things would have happened.

First, it would’ve sent a message to Toronto head coach Mike Babcock that he and his Leafs are officially in the Bruins’ heads. That's a colossal panic move from a team that took two games 5-1 and 7-3 in the venue it returns to tonight.

Did we forget about that?

Though it’s been frustrating, the Bruins' issue is finishing off the plenty of chances they’re getting.

“We’ve had some good looks, (Frederik Andersen) made saves,” Cassidy said. “You just gotta stay with it.”

That’s something they have done that before with this exact lineup. They haven’t done it with Donato logging meaningful minutes, and they haven’t suffered a loss drastic enough to warrant a move that would broadcast to the world that they would prefer uncertainty.

Second, Nazem Kadri would’ve heard the news and flashed the most annoying smirk you can imagine. He’d have already won the mental battle these agitators thrive on. Brad Marchand can keep his smirk for now.

Third, I can’t imagine a scenario where much would’ve changed in the actual game. Please re-watch Donato’s nine minutes and 24 seconds of pretty much nothing in Game 2 if you think he’s going to be the difference between a win or a loss. He couldn’t do that, Tommy Wingels couldn’t do that, Jake DeBrusk scoring actual points (3 goals, 2 assists) couldn’t even do that.

It’s on the line that scored 23 points in three wins and 0 points in three losses. It’s on Tuukka Rask proving he can do what he did in Game 4 when it counts the most. It’s on the banged up roster that clawed its way here with an 18 game points streak while Donato was still tearing it up at Harvard.

And guess what? If this line arrangement suddenly implodes, Cassidy can change it around during the game. He hasn’t been afraid to do that all season. Same goes for tonight.

“It’s a switch we can make in-game, and we have this year,” he said. “We’ve made a lot of changes in-game when we don’t like what we see. This is how we’re starting, and hopefully finish.”

“Finish” is the problem. The team that’s been outshooting, out-chancing, and outplaying its opposition is doing everything right except that one thing. No change to the lineup is going to finish their chances for them.

 

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