( Photo by Maddie Meyer / Getty Images )

By: Carter Hochman | Follow me on Twitter @Carterr33

It’s been exactly five games since Bruce Cassidy went into Covid protocol with Joe Sacco taking the reins behind the bench in his absence, and in the most polite of terms, it’s been extremely average goings for Boston. This, quite honestly, is not that far off from the Bruins with Cassidy, which I think is the real cause for concern here.

The Bruins are 2-2-1 in Cassidy’s absence with nine goals for and nine goals against. No genuinely outstanding performances, but also no obvious drop-in play. This tells me one of two things: the first being that Cassidy’s only true influence is on-the-line pairings and special teams plays. The second of these two points is that the players are starting to run out of ways to be inspired. DeBrusk is asking for a trade, Taylor Hall isn’t really scoring the goals that we need him to score (and I’ll get back to that in a sec) the goaltending is only fine, and up until last night vs. the Oilers, we haven’t been able to beat the powerhouse teams in the NHL, which going into this season, we thought the Bruins were one of.

In the midst of all of this, Brad Marchand picked up a (questionable) three-game suspension for slew-footing. I think I can speak for all of us when I say we all put our faces in our hands and said, “c’mon, man, you were doing so well!” The B’s went 1-2-0 in his absence, and that led to Taylor Hall being put on the first line with Bergeron and Pastrnak. Did Taylor Hall do poorly? No, technically, he did fine; he skated hard, he got shots on goal, he defended well but did not put up one goal with a -1 rating in that span, which raised some eyebrows for sure.

Ironically, the guy who’s been stepping up thus far in this mess has been Jake DeBrusk. With two goals in his last five games, DeBrusk has clearly been playing with a little more pep in his step. This tells me that he just isn’t passionate about playing in Boston anymore and is playing to increase his trade value. Which, honestly, more power to him. If he keeps up this play, the Bruins might actually get something decent in return, which might just save Don Sweeney’s bacon too.

In their next three games, the Bruins will face the very powerful Calgary Flames (that still feels weird to say), the well-rounded Golden Knights, and then their old pal Zdeno Chara and the New York Islanders. From there on out, it’s a relatively manageable schedule for the B’s to make up some ground in the playoff standings. But if Boston remains on the course it’s currently traveling down, they’d be lucky to finish in a wild card spot.

Three things need to happen right now: first, Cassidy needs to get back out of Covid protocols (safely, of course), second Taylor Hall needs to find his scoring sticks wherever he lost them, and third, the Bruins need to find a suitable replacement/trade for Jake DeBrusk. If those things happen, this season is savable.