Why Bruins Coach Bruce Cassidy Should Be In Conversation For Coach of the Year

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

By: Yanni Latzanakis  |  Follow Me On Twitter @yanlatz

The Boston Bruins have been on a roll lately and are currently on a 14 game point streak as of their February 28th matchup with the NHL’s best Tampa Bay Lightning. This team is feeling it right now, and season-long confidence from Bruce Cassidy and coaching staff has fueled this team to a top team in the league. Bruce Cassidy should be in the conversation with NHL’s elite coaches.

Bruce Cassidy’s Bruins have skyrocketed to the top of the Eastern Conference and the NHL’s overall standings. As of Thursday, they sit at 83 points which is second in the Atlantic Division, second in the Eastern Conference and Third place in the overall league standings. They even came in second in the NHL’s weekly power rankings. Just one point ahead of the Toronto Maple Leafs, every point down the stretch is still critical for Boston and their playoff positioning.

At the forefront of every good hockey team is obviously good players. But, accompanying high-end talent on the ice, is high-end talent behind the bench. The Bruins have that in Bruce Cassidy. Bruce Cassidy was hired as interim head coach on February 07, 2017 after the firing of Claude Julien who coached the Bruins for 10 seasons and is the winningest coach in Boston Bruins franchise history. He then became the 28th head coach on April 26, 2017.

Bruce Cassidy undoubtedly has big shoes to fill. Throughout extensive injuries last year and this year, the Bruins under Bruce Cassidy have the second best record in the league since he was hired in February of 2017. Bruce Cassidy is currently 105-44-22 in parts of 3 seasons in Boston. He just recently became the second fastest Bruins coach to reach 100 wins when his team defeated Chicago 6-3 on February 12, 2019. With 100 wins in 166 games, only Tom Johnson was quicker in the 1971-1972 season when it took him 138 games to get to 100.

It is evident that Bruce Cassidy’s system is working in Boston and in my opinion, has to be in the conversation for the Jack Adams Trophy as the NHL’s Coach of the Year. They continue to win games, and his voice in the locker room is strong. Bruce Cassidy has lost many players for parts of this season to injuries like David Pastrnak, Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, Tuukka Rask, and many others. As a result, he has shown a lot of confidence in the young players stepping into the lineup or into new line roles like Heinen, DeBrusk, Cehlarik, Kuhlman, Frederic, Vaakanainen and others. But despite these man-games lost, the Bruins are still climbing the NHL standings and solidifying their spot in the 2019 playoffs.

As the Bruins have battled their injuries this season, Cassidy has had to balance a lineup that has seen a lot of youngsters from Providence fill in for the injured B’s and has taken a lot of criticism for his line pairs. However, I think Cassidy has done his best with the lineup, and his system has worked. Thanks to their second-best powerplay percentage at 26.4%, strong leadership, experience, trade deadline help and consistent contribution up and down the lineup, the Bruins have emerged as a strong Stanley Cup contender from the East.

Wins speak volumes with whoever is in the lineup for the Bruins. Regardless of who has stepped in for Boston this season, the Bruins continue to win under Bruce Cassidy. Along with the likes of Bill Peters in Calgary, Barry Trotz with the Islanders and John Cooper with the Lightning, Bruce Cassidy has to be in the conversation for the Jack Adams Trophy as Coach of the Year.

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Bruins Cassidy Is Here To Stay As He Nears Two Full Seasons

Boston Bruins vs New Jersey Devils

PHOTO CREDITS: (Matt Stone/ Boston Herald)

By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj 

On Saturday, February 9th, Boston Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy will be the main man on the B’s bench for his 164th game – exactly two full 82-game seasons. Recently, individuals around the fan base have been questioning the work of Cassidy and whether or not he is the right head coach for the team moving forward in the years and seasons to come. In the shootout loss to the New York Rangers, Cassidy chose not to put forward Patrice Bergeron in the player-vs-goalie period, once again bringing up the judgement on his decisions.

Then there is the David Pastrnak situation. The Bruins are very much a front-loaded roster when it comes to the offence. Aside from the first line of Marchand, Bergeron, and Pastrnak, the Bruins do not have much to fall back on when we are talking bottom-nine scoring forwards. David Krejci can put up numbers but always seems to be lacking good wingers at all times. Jake DeBrusk has more recently brought some life to the second line, but a hole remains on the right wing.

During the fast-paced action of a game, Cassidy may put Pastrnak with his fellow countryman, David Krejci and Canadian Jake DeBrusk to “spread out” the offensive firepower. However, not before long, the trio that is a true threat to any team in the NHL is back together and a large pool of centres and wingers are placed alongside Krejci to try and find that seemingly-rare chemistry.

We have yet to see multiple games of consistent Krejci-Pastrnak action unless it is on the power-play which, coincidence or not, is one of Boston’s strongest weapons of scoring opportunities. Krejci and Pastrnak have proven in the past that they can find that chemistry that has been discussed before on many occasions and build some good chances to put the puck past the goal line and into the back of the net.

Although, once they are on together, it brings along a weaker first line, where Marchand and Bergeron lose a highly-skilled scoring player who can make things happen on the ice. Recently in an interview prior to the Kings game on Saturday, Cassidy said that they are going to try out Danton Heinen on that top line. Heinen is not Pastrnak by any stretch of the imagination and has struggled this season after a strong rookie campaign in 2017-18. Cassidy did go on to say that Heinen is more a defensive player and the three of them will not have to worry too much about the top lines of other teams because all of them, especially Patrice Bergeron, are for the most part, responsible defensively.

The lack of depth scoring on the Boston Bruins in February 2019 can also be attributed to the lack of trades by General Manager Don Sweeney and with only a few more weeks until the NHL Trade Deadline at the end of the month, the clock is ticking to make that deal for another scoring player to play on the front end and bring some help to the top-six.

Either way, Bruce Cassidy has done well and continues to do well. In the past few games, the only line that has been reliable offensively has been that first line. In the three games of February so far, Marchand, Bergeron, and Pastrnak have a combined eleven points. After them, David Krejci has two points, Danton Heinen, Jake DeBrusk, and Peter Cehlarik have one, and the rest of the forwards are yet to score a single point in three games.

Dating back to January 1st, the dangerous first line has fifty-three points combined (22 Goals, 31 Assists) with Brad Marchand (7-13-20) leading the way in those 15 games. Only David Krejci has double-digits in points for 2019 and Jake DeBrusk is the next highest with only five points in fifteen games. It does not make the job of Cassidy any easier when they do not have a high quantity of quality players.

Look at the Toronto Maple Leafs or the Tampa Bay Lightning for examples. Both teams have many interchangeable parts on all four lines. Almost every forward on the roster can play on the first line with success and the team will most likely still win games. Do goaltending and defence play a large factor in that as well? One-hundred percent. But the flexibility of those four forward lines makes the job of Mike Babcock on Toronto or Jon Cooper on Tampa Bay a lot easier.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (NHL.com)

 

Just like the blame cannot be placed on individuals for a team effort, the blame cannot be solely placed on Cassidy for the position the Bruins are in. On April 26th, 2017, the Bruins named Cassidy head coach of the team – replacing long-time coach, Claude Julien who was fired earlier in the year.

Cassidy coached twenty-seven games for the Bruins, finishing with an 18-8-1 record and leading them to a first-round playoff matchup with the Ottawa Senators in the 2016-17 season, a series that they lost in six games. This led into last season, where Cassidy implemented his faith and passion for the young players of this league, helping lead the B’s to a 50-win season. Bruce was right behind the team for their first-round win over Toronto and stuck by them in the five-game loss to the Lightning. The year for Bruce led to him being one of the three nominees for the Jack Adams Award – awarding the best coach in the NHL for that season. While he didn’t take the award home, the honour of being nominated for it is a great accomplishment.

Again this year, Cassidy has done a great job. It has been a difficult road to manage the struggling youth that once succeeded for him not only in Providence but in Boston during 2017-18 as well, the goaltending challenges of Rask and Halak, and the whole offensive situation that I’ve discussed over.

With the older players such as Chara, Bergeron, Krejci, Marchand, and Backes, being surrounded by the younger players such as Pastrnak, DeBrusk, McAvoy, Carlo, and Heinen, Cassidy has had a challenge of who to play with who at what time and when. For a team that seems to have rough nights, still battles back and is able to fight their way to earn a point or at the very least, remain competitive in the ever-so-difficult Eastern Conference.

Bruce Cassidy has a 97-45-21 record with the Boston Bruins since 2016-17. According to BostonGlobe.com’s Kevin Paul Dupont (@GlobeKPD on Twitter), Claude Julien, the man who won the Stanley Cup with Boston in 2011, had a 94-48-22 in his first 164 career games with the Black N’ Gold.

Julien and Cassidy are almost identical in their wins/losses and they have started almost a decade apart from each other (’07/’08 debut for CJ, ’16/’17 debut for BC). Bruce Cassidy is not only a good coach, but he should remain a coach for the Boston Bruins. He has had success and will continue to have success if the right players are on his lineup. Does he make mistakes time in and time out? Of course, not many coaches in any sport are perfect, (unless you’re Bill Belichick on New England) and it is how he can rally behind the team after a loss and turn it into a win. Bruce Cassidy can do that with the best of them.

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Claude Julien And His Legacy With The Boston Bruins

 

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Head Coach Claude Julien of the Boston Bruins helps Brad Marchand #63 of the Boston Bruins adjust the chin strap on his helmet during a second period time out against the Pittsburgh Penguins on December 5, 2011, at CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

By Andrew Thompson                                                                      Twitter: @godwentwhoops

 

For a lot of Boston Bruins fans, Claude Julien will always have a warm spot in their hearts. He was the coach that helped the Black and Gold get back to the Stanley Cup.  He was one of the key figures in the B’s bringing the Cup back to Boston in 2011.  With 419 wins under his belt, it will be quite some time till another head coach takes that benchmark away from him.

Julien’s return earned him a tribute video during Wednesday’s nights game.

The B’s family came to their feet to give Julien a standing ovation. It was well deserved in this fan’s opinion.

On the other side of the coin, there are Bruins fans who don’t have such a soft spot for Claude. He didn’t seem to connect well with the young players. He kept engaging in a defensive-minded hockey system that alienated the more aggressive players on the squad.

Love him or hate him, the former Bruins bench boss came to town tonight. It’s the first time he’s been here as a member of the visiting team since he was dismissed by Cam Neely last season after spending nearly a decade with the B’s. Julien returned to Boston at the head of the infamous Montreal Canadiens, the B’s most loathed rivals.

(At this moment, you can hear your average Montreal fan muttering something about “24 cups”. It’s a pity they haven’t won any since the start of the salary cap era.)

Boston Bruins fans owe a debt of gratitude to Coach Claude. If it wasn’t for him, the Bruins roster would be missing an integral component of their current roster. If it wasn’t for Julien, it’s likely we wouldn’t have the ‘Little Ball of Hate’ in Boston.

Brad Marchand is the best example of what Claude Julien did for the Bruins. Marchand started in the NHL as a young player with a lot of talent, but absolutely no discipline. Marchand started his career in Boston as a fourth-line grinder, playing minimal minutes due to his unpredictable style of hockey.

Julien believed in Marchand’s potential. He pushed an undisciplined pest to become a more complete player. His lessons didn’t just cover what to do on the ice. Julien helped Marchand (who currently leads the team in goals and assists) temper his demeanor and make him a better professional player overall.

Had Brad Marchand not came to Boston during the Julien era, it is very possible that Marchand would have become one of those bottom-six pests that would have been bounced around the league, never finding a home in his career.

“He gave me an opportunity to play, dealt with me more than I think a lot of coaches would have, worked with me tirelessly,” said an appreciative Marchand of his former coach. “Had plenty of conversations about how to act and how to be a good player, a good pro, how to learn the game and become a better player.

“He definitely gave me a huge opportunity and allowed me to grow into a better player.”

“You could go through a lot of different things, but the biggest thing he preached to me was how to be a good pro and how to be consistent,” continued Marchand. “That’s one thing we talked about is consistency. And if you want to be in this league for a long time you have to be able to bring your best game every night or close to it. That was probably one of the biggest things I took away.”

Marchand has become an All-Star in the league. He has become less known for his agitations, and more for his skill. He’s advanced from a part-time grinder to an elite player that causes most teams fits on any given night. He’s #63 on the roster and #1 in the hearts of many fans (and a #2 to those who love Patrice Bergeron more).

Brad Marchand is part of the legacy of Claude Julien.  Love him or hate him, Julien’s place in the history of the Boston Bruins is secure.

Boston Bruins and Ryan Spooner Come To Terms On One-Year Deal

 

Ryan+Spooner+Boston+Bruins+v+Ottawa+Senators+rIeq_8hNtDUl

Ryan Spooner #51 of the Boston Bruins skates against the Ottawa Senators in Game Two of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Canadian Tire Centre on April 15, 2017 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)

By: Andrew Thompson                                                                   Twitter: @godwentwhoops

The Boston Bruins found a way to avoid arbitration with forward Ryan Spooner today, signing him to a one-year, $2.825 million dollar contract.  The contract is a near split down the middle from what the Bruins ($2 million) and Spooner ($3.85 million) wanted.

In the short term, both sides walked away with a win. Spooner got nearly a $ 2 million dollar raise. As for the Bruins, they now have all but one player (forward David Pastrnak) locked up going into camp in September.

Even with a contract, Spooner’s place in the lineup isn’t a lock.  He’ll be facing stiff competition from Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson in battling for the B’s third-line center position at training camp.

Spooner had some issues with Boston last season. He wasn’t the favorite of either head coach in Boston last year. Claude Julien had issues with his defensive game, and Bruce Cassidy had problems with his offensive game. Those issues caused him to be scratched in the final two playoff games against Ottawa last season.

The 25-year old Spooner had some issues last season with Boston . Spooner wasn’t the favorite of either head coach in Boston last year. Claude Julien had issues with his defensive game, and Bruce Cassidy had problems with his offensive game. Those issues caused him to be scratched in the final two playoff games against Ottawa last season.

At the end of the season, Cassidy called out Spooner for his liabilites on local media.

“Listen, we all know he’s not that guy that’s going to be planting himself in front of the net and absorbing hits every shift, but he still needs to attack with the puck when there is some open ice,” said Cassidy about Spooner. “And like I said, there wasn’t a lot, but there were creases out there where he could have used his foot speed, and that was the conversation with him. When those situations arose, we needed him to make his plays and attack. It didn’t happen, so we moved on to the next player. We’re here to win; we were kind of leaving it all out there and I thought our guys played hard, the guys that went in, so you kind of look at it as more give them credit for going in and doing their job and we’ll continue to work with Ryan.

“Listen, he’s a special talent. We’ve just got to continue to try to pull it out of him and see where it leads us.”

Spooner had 39 points (11 goals) last year for the Black and Gold. Those 39 points were good enough for sixth overall on the team, but it was a 10 point (2 goal) backslide from the year before.

While Spooner will have some place on the team this year, he’s going to have to prove he wants to be in Boston if he has any hope of staying with the team at the end of the upcoming season.

 

Boston Bruins: Shopping Ryan Spooner

ryan-spooner

By Andrew Thompson         Follow Me On Twitter @godwentwhoops 

After several years of trying to find a spot for forward Ryan Spooner, it appears the Boston Bruins are looking to cut their losses. Will another team pick up the 25-year old in the offseason?

The Boston Bruins have struggled to find a place for forward Ryan Spooner. The former 2010 second-round draft pick has found himself going up and down the lines in an attempt to find himself a permanent position with the team.

Spooner’s greatest liability has been his consistency. Over the course of five years and two head coaches, the Bruins organization have made a sincere effort to help Spooner reach his potential. The end result was a mixed bag.

Claude Julien tried a lot of different approaches to get Spooner to fit in. Some were positive, others weren’t. Julien even went so far to publicly chastise Spooner in front of the Boston media (who can make a school of frenzied piranhas look tame).

When Bruce Cassidy took over, he also tried to find a spot for Spooner. Once Bruce Cassidy was ensconced as the team’s 28th head coach, he took a few moments to offer a frank and honest assessment of Spooner’s abilities.

“I thought it started well with Ryan,” offered Sweeney on Spooner. “He had some confidence, some jump; we were trying to incorporate him in the penalty kill, make him more of a 200-foot player, but I’ll tell you what my issue was at the end with Ryan: It was well-documented with Claude he didn’t like his defensive game and some of the other things.

“For me, I didn’t like his offensive game at the end. He wasn’t playing to his strengths, and that bothers me about players, if they’re not able to play to their strengths when the temperature of the game goes up.”


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Bruins President Don Sweeney’s opinion was similar. When asked about Spooner’s return to team, Sweeney was decidedly uncommitted.

“Well, to be determined,” said Sweeney said of Spooner’s status in Boston. “We’ll look at our roster and what our options are. He has options as well as an RFA and we’ll have discussions with his representatives and see where there’s a fit. Ryan struggled down the stretch, had a nice bump when Bruce first took over, the familiarity probably helped. Offensively it tailed off.”

After five seasons with the Black and Gold, it appears the Boston front office are looking to move the Jekyll-and-Hyde forward. According to Ryan Kennedy of the Hockey News several teams have coming sniffing around the TD Garden in an attempt to grab the impending restricted free agent.

There are several teams out there that could use a player like him.  He’s capable of putting up 40 points in a season. The Canucks and the Devils could certainly use a middle-six/bottom-six center. As for the Golden Knights, they just might do us a favor and pick him as long as the Bruins don’t decide to protect him.

Ryan Spooner isn’t the worst player the Bruins have put on the ice these last few seasons. (This is the team that put Zac Rinaldo in the spoked ‘B’ without trying to be ironic after all.) But he’s maddeningly inconsistent. Some nights he’s clicking offensively. Other nights he’s a liability (Claude’s own word) for the B’s.

Spooner would like to stay in the Black and Gold. He knew that his game wasn’t what it needed to be at the end of the season. He only put up two points for Boston in the postseason, and his replacement Sean Kuraly netted two huge goals for the B’s in game five against the Ottawa Senators.

“I’ve been here since I’ve been 18, so it’s been a long time and I just want to help out,” said Spooner of his desire to stay in Boston.

“I definitely didn’t play to the top of my game.  I would have liked to score. I don’t think I scored in the last 20 games or something like that, so that definitely would have helped.”

 “I just need to be better than the last little bit of the season.”

In the end, moving Spooner might be the best thing for him.  He has the ability to be a solid NHL player, but he just can’t seem to click in the Bruins system. If moved, he could learn from this experience and become a more reliable NHL player.


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Boston Bruins: This Isn’t Just A Spark

 

NHL: Winnipeg Jets at Boston Bruins

Nov 19, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Bruins center Ryan Spooner (51) skates with the puck during the 3rd period at TD Garden. The Bruins won 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

By Spencer Lindsay     Follow Me On Twitter  @suspenceful9

In the (13) games since Bruce Cassidy has taken over as interim head coach, the Boston Bruins have soared upward. They have become one of the hottest teams in the NHL and have played to the tune of a 10-3-0 record in the era of Bruce Cassidy. In those 13 games, there have been noticeably good changes in the way the team is playing. The structure hasn’t changed much, most of the defensive zone play, neutral zone play, powerplay, and penalty kill structure has remained largely the same. The structure that did change? The way they attacked the net.

Bruce Cassidy told reporters in his first press conference as interim head coach that he wanted his players to use their skill more in the offensive zone to create better scoring chances. So far the team has reaped the rewards of that philosophy. Outscoring opponents 47 to 27 in that time and only dropping three games. They tallied wins against three division leaders, two of them being the San Jose Sharks, and the third being a 4-0 beat-down against the Bruins most hated rival, the Montreal Canadiens. Perhaps the most satisfying win of them all. With this recent improvement of play, the Bruins have soared back into a playoff spot, and appear poised to once again be playing hockey in April, rather than golf.

However, besides just winning and the hope of playoffs, there are other reasons to be excited as a Bruins fan right now. First of all, the Bruins have quite a few decent to potential star players in their farm system. Names like Charlie McAvoy, Anders Bjork, Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, and Jeremy Lauzon,  have the organization looking primed for the future. The Bruins also have arguably two of the better younger players in the NHL as well in David Pastrnak and Brandon Carlo. They even have the second overall point scorer in the NHL, in Brad Marchand, who has emerged as an elite talent in the league within the last two seasons.

All of these positives signs aside, there is one sign getting overlooked, and that is that the Bruins finally seem to have decided on a direction for the team, and even more re-assuring is that it happens to be the same direction the league is going.

Within the last 3 years, NHL fans have seen the size of the nets increased, the depth of the nets decreased to encourage plays behind the goal line, and rule changes regarding the size of the equipment that goalies can use. All of these changes were made with one purpose, and that was to increase scoring league wide. NHL executives realized that a 6-4 game is much more exciting to most fans than a 1-0 or a 2-1 overtime game, and took action to make the former results more plausible. It’s with these rule changes in mind that my reasoning comes for the Bruins finally moving with the league, instead of against it.

Under Claude Julien, the Bruins were continuing to play a more defensively minded game, and we saw what kind of results that brought. It seemed the Bruins were bound to come just short of a playoff spot again, and a rebuild would be almost certain. However, the roster that General Manager Don Sweeney was putting together the last two years did not have the proper players to play this defensive structure. That’s why more often than not, you saw players like Ryan Spooner and Frank Vatrano being underutilized because they weren’t responsible enough defensively, to fit with Claude Julien’s system. However league wide, players like Spooner and Vatrano seem to shine. Why is this? Coaches know their player’s strengths and weaknesses and put them in situations to shine, rather than fail.

Now, this is not saying that Claude Julien is a bad coach. Julien brought a cup back to Boston, something I and other Bruins fans are eternally grateful for. But he also was a big part of the reason the Bruins didn’t make the playoffs the last two seasons, and why they were close to not making the cut again this season. The NHL is going to get what they want, regardless of whether or not your team is on board with it. Playing a defensively minded game when the league has explicitly said and acted on the fact that they want more scoring seems redundant. If this team was going to continue with a defensive coach but an offensive roster, mediocrity would be its destiny until one of those things changed. With all these new rule changes to increase scoring, and Julien coaching his style, the Bruins would manage to be not the worst team in the league, but not the best either.

Thankfully, it seems as though with Bruce Cassidy at the helm, the Bruins are finally getting on board the offensive train. Albeit later than most teams, but not too late. In his time as coach, we’ve seen players like Adam Mcquaid suddenly activate offensively, going on a three-game point streak (the longest in his career) which included a beautiful backdoor goal against Carey Price. Other defensemen have also gotten involved more offensively as well with Kevan Miller scoring here and there, Colin Miller finally playing like the player we traded for, Brandon Carlo with a couple goals, you get the picture. The fact is, this is the way the league is going. Defenseman jumping in on the play instead of posting up at the blue line, teams having lines of just offensive forwards who rarely take defensive zone faceoffs, and forwards using their skating to create time and space.

So rest easy Bruins fans. The Bruins did not miss the offensive style train, they may have been late getting on, but the point is that they did get on.

New-Look Boston Bruins

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(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

By Court Lalonde (follow @courtlalonde)

With the Bruins in the first bye week in the history of their franchise, it gives us time to reflect on the last three games, also look to what’s ahead.

With three games under the new coach Bruce Cassidy, the Bruins are 3-0-0. During those games, the Bruins have played a much more high tempo than previously under Claude Julien. The defense has been jumping into the play in the offensive zone, taking high percentage shots, and finishing their checks. We have the same roster they started the season with, but they’re playing a different system, which is taking more chances to move the puck up the ice.

Bruce Cassidy was with the AHL Providence Bruins for nine seasons before being given the assistant job with the Bruins at the beginning go the season. Before being in the Bruins organization, he was the coach of the Washington Capitals from 2002-2004.

Claude had been in Boston for the past ten years, and their system focused on defense first, he has coached that way every team he has coached one. Some fans might say it’s boring hockey to watch, but it worked for a period. In the past couple of years, the NHL has gotten younger and faster, and teams were beginning to outskate the Bruins with the old system. Claude is no longer with us, and maybe it was just time for a change.

Over the past three games, Cassidy has done a little shuffling of the lines with great success. David Pastrnak is back on a line with David Krejci, and both have points in the last three games. Pastrnak has three goals and one assist and Krejci has one goal and three assists. David Backes has been move up to Patrice Bergeron’s line and has been a welcome addition to complement both Bergeron and Brad Marchand. It has allowed the Bruins to balance their attack on opposing clubs and the results have been on the score sheet.

Boston has outscored their opponents by a 14-6 margin during the three games and have recorded wins against San Jose, Vancouver, and Montreal. The win against Montreal at home, was the first win at TD Garden against the Habs since January 12th, 2012.  Two of those teams are in first place in their respected divisions, and the Bruins got a win from the backup goaltender for the second time this year. The Bruins power play has scored four goals in three games and move up to 14th in the league with a percentage of 20.1%, while the penalty kill is the best in the NHL with an 86.3% and scored a short-handed goal.

The scoring has not just come from the forwards; the defense has scored four goals in the last three games. The defense has been jumping into the rush and allowing the Bruins to catch teams off guard and create scoring chances. Colin Miller and Torey Krug have benefited from this new system by moving the puck up faster in transition and taking advantage of our winger’s speed. A big question mark was how veteran Zdeno Chara would play in this faster transition game at his age. Chara didn’t look out of place, jumped into the rush and scored a statement short-handed goal against Montreal in the 4-0 win.

In the game against Montreal, Tuukka Rask passed Frank Brimsek on the all-time list for career shutouts for a Bruins goalies to second on the list. Tiny Thompson is first on the list, with 74 and he has 36.  Rask now has six shutouts this year, with a 2.27 GAA, a .912 SV%, and 27 wins going into the break.

The break hasn’t been friendly to the teams that have had it so far this year. The bye week was an exchange for the 3-on-3 tournament for the all-star game. Players won’t have to report to practice until after 4:00 pm on the fifth day if they have a game on the sixth day. The record for teams coming off the break so far this year is 3-9 which is why this break probably came at the worst time for the Bruins. I’m sure they will poll the players at the end of the year to see if the bye week was a success and it will come back with a no.

Our hope is the Bruins start the four-game road trip with the same intensity that they have had in the previous three games. They will be in tough with games against San Jose, Anaheim, Los Angeles, and Dallas. Their new system will play well against these west-coast teams, and they know they can beat San Jose. They will take it day-by-day and now that Claude has another job that distraction should be behind them. The leaders in the room need to show it on the ice, and the players will follow.

The jury is still out on these new-look Bruins and their intern coach Bruce Cassidy. There is no way that we can say that the coaching change was a success yet, we haven’t had a big enough sample size. We will see how this team performs after the break and where the team is in the standings after as well. If they still have a playoff spot when they play the Sharks on Sunday, they should count their lucky stars. If they don’t, hopefully, they will continue the winning ways and control their destiny moving forward.

Claude, Say It Ain’t So….

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(Gregg Forwerck/Getty images)

 

By Court Lalonde (follow @courtlalonde)

 

The Boston Bruins – Montreal Canadiens rivalry has been the most storied in the NHL since the first game they played each other on Dec 8th, 1924. The 1955 Richard Riot was because of what originally happened between the Bruins and the Canadiens. Bruins defensemen Hal Laycoe slashed Maurice Richard across the shoulder and hit him in the face with his stick. When Richard then retaliated he tried to punch Hal and instead hit the linesman Cliff Thompson in the face knocking him out. The Boston police tried to arrest Richard that night, but the Bruins made nice with the police and allowed Richard to leave the building.

Earlier today the Montreal Canadiens announced that they had hired Claude Julien as their next coach. This has never happened in the history of both franchises that a coach was fired and then hired by the other club within the same year. Pat Burns did coach both clubs, but there were years in between this happening.

Claude Julien has the most wins as a coach for the Boston Bruins in the team’s history. He helped bring the Stanley Cup back to Boston in 2011 and won the team the Presidents Trophy in 2014. In the ten years he coached this franchise, he was one of the faces that anyone would associate with the Boston Bruins.

For the fans of this team, it might feel like a slap in the face because we hate the Canadiens more than any team in the NHL. The news probably came more of a shock than that of the firing of Julien the week before. As a fan of the Bruins, the firing is still a fresh wound, and then you feel like you get wounded all over again.

From the years of 1968 to 1974 the Canadiens won four cups, and the Bruins won two and lost one year in the finals to the Philadelphia Flyers. During those years the Bruins had Bobby Orr, Phil Esposito, and Johnny Bucyk that were stars in the NHL. The Canadiens had Jean Beliveau, Guy Lafleur, and a young Ken Dryden. These two teams were the most dominant teams in the NHL and had to face each other in the playoffs every year. Other teams knew they would have to beat one of them to have a chance at the cup.

In 1979, Guy Lafleur scored the famous power play goal that would tie the game up after the Bruins were called late in the third period with too many men on the ice. Rick Middleton had thought he might have had the game winner moments earlier and series winner. Montreal went on to win that game in overtime and go on to win the Stanley Cup that year.

Feb 9th, 2011 the Bruins beat the Montreal Canadiens 8-6, but they do it not just on the scoreboard. During that game, there were six fights, and a goalie fight between Carey Price and Tim Thomas. March 8th of the same year Zdeno Chara is suspended for a hit on Max Pacioretty that almost ended Pacioretty’s career. It was inevitable that the Bruins would face the Canadiens in the first round of the playoffs that year but would win it in seven games with an overtime winner from Nathan Horton. The Bruins went on to win the Stanley Cup and the modern day rivalry was back on in a big way.

I’m sure we all wanted nothing but the best for Claude after he was fired by Don Sweeney last week. I read that most fans wanted to call from Sweeney’s and Neely job after they did, not for doing it but how they did it. Maybe it makes it easier that Claude is now the coach of the Canadiens because we don’t have to be happy when he comes back to coach against us. I’m sure Claude will understand that the next time we play them, he will be our enemy.

Less than a week ago I wrote an article thanking him for everything he has done for this franchise but now he is the coach of the Montreal Canadiens. I will be forever grateful for what joy he helped bring me over the last ten years, but he is now the coach of a team that I do not like and will not like.

Sorry Claude, any time your behind that bench, you’re dead to me.

Bruins Change Starts Tonight Against San Jose

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By Mark Allred    Follow me on Twitter @BlackAndGold277 

On Tuesday in a cowardly fashion, Boston Bruins management relieved Head Coach Claude Julien of his tenure as the franchise’s winningest coach in team history as the organization attempts to motivate the current roster that’s frankly underperformed to ownership’s expectations. As many hockey fans know, the B’s haven’t participated in the NHL’s Stanley Cup Playoffs for two straight seasons and with the underachieving efforts from this lineup, this season look to possibly be on the outside looking for a third year with 27 regular season games remaining in the 2016-17 campaign.

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Saying Goodbye

There’s no doubt Julien is a well-respected head coach around the NHL from hearing praise from fellow bench bosses such as Toronto Maple Leafs Mike Babcock and Washington Capitals Barry Trotz, but after ten season’s in Boston, it seemed the message to the players was becoming stale and uninspiring. After Claude’s dismissal earlier this week he left the organization with a 419-246-94 record and was only 13 games away from tying Art Ross for most games coached in team history. The legendary Ross coached the Bruins from 1925 to 1945 (17 Seasons) earning a franchise record od 772 games.

Julien’s achievements in Beantown will never be forgotten as he orchestrated a lineup which brought a Stanley Cup back to Boston after a 39-year absence, a Presidents Trophy as the best team in the standings, and a Jack Adams award for best coach in the league. He’s under contract for the remainder of this season and all of next, so it’s going to be interesting to see if Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs will entertain offers as other teams foaming at the mouth to interview him. If allowed to talk to teams in need of his services, he won’t be on the market for long.

Julien is a defensive minded head coach that fit the Bruins system as an old school leader but times are changing in the NHL as other teams have transitioned into a more offensive style play, and as the league gets bigger, faster, and stronger the time was now for a change. With a wave of developmental talent coming through the minor leagues, a new voice might be needed, and a coach with more offensive responsibilities may be accepted from younger members that seemingly haven’t gotten a fair shot in the past under the veteran coach.

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Next: Intern Bruce Cassidy

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The 51-year-old Cassidy has been with the Bruins organization since he was hired to be the assistant coach of the Bruins top minor-pro Providence Bruins AHL team in the 2008-09 season. After Rob Murray was let go by the organization, Cassidy was promoted to be the bench boss in the 2011-12 season and as the voice of the B’s affiliate for the next five seasons helping the Baby B’s to a decent 207-128-45 record.

After the Bruins missed the playoffs last season for the second consecutive time, Bruins management made changes under Julien with the removal of Doug Houda and promoted Cassidy and former Bruins Jay Pandolfo in an effort to get to the younger players being filtered into the lineup, but also be an option in case the team fails once again to meet expectations. It’s been believed that with the Cassidy addition the fate of Julien was expected as rumors filter in that President Cam Neely was pushing for his dismissal for the last five seasons.

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This isn’t Cassidy’s first attempt at the head coaching experience as he was behind the bench for a season and a half (2002-03 to 2003-04) earning a record of 47-45-9-6 in his time with the Washington Capitals organization. Now is his time to audition for a permanent job with 27 regular season games remaining but is that enough of a sample size for Bruins management to properly evaluate his efforts with hopes of changing the identity that many seem to believe has been missing for the past few seasons?

With the firing of Julien, General Manager Don Sweeney may, in fact, be using Cassidy as a temporary fix as the B’s organization assesses the situation and starts the interviewing process in the mean time. As Black N’ Gold Hockey Blog staff writer Kyle Benson mentioned in an article earlier this week, there are some coaches available with NHL experience but is that the direction this franchise wants to go in. Could a plan be under the sleeves of Sweeney in an attempt to hire “his guy” with the ability to communicate to younger players? As mentioned above, the more youthful movement might be in place and with Cassidy in the mix the last six years with the organization he might not be in the plans.

If Not Cassidy, Who?

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Above Photo Credit:  The Province .com

As much as I hate the idea of bringing back former Bruins players either in a coaching or management role, I’d like this team to take a look at former Bruins forward and current AHL coach of the Utica Comets Travis Green. In four season’s as a minor league professional coach, Gree has a coaching record of 138-97-26-12 and while those numbers might not scream success to many Bruins fans ready for change, it’s his ability to communicate with developing players that are most interesting to me and might be to B’s manager Sweeney as well with his previous role as a long-time director of player development.

As a constant reader of hockey news and listener of many podcasts from around the hockey community, Greens name has been highly mentioned as a coach that should be under the radar for not only a potential future job in Boston but around the NHL as other teams look to make changes as well. Travis played 970 NHL games and posted 193-262-455 number in his 15-year career. He spent two seasons’ss with the Bruins from the 2003-04 to 2005-06 playing in 146 games contributing 21-17–38 numbers in his short time in Beantown.

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Photo Credit Above:  WHL Portland Winterhawks

Green coached the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks to a Memorial Cup final in 2013 as he took over for suspended and former Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Johnston. That year Green took over the bench with 47 regular season games remaining and helped his team to a 37-8-0-2 record. In the 2014-15 season, he helped the Utica Comets AHL franchise to a Calder Cup Final appearance with a regular season record of 47-20-7-2 and a Western Conference title. Unfortunately, his efforts came to an end that year as the Manchester Monarchs won a franchise first Calder Cup and later pack up operations to be closer to their California apparent NHLclub the Los Angeles Kings.

Now I’m not saying this is the right fix for the future of this Bruins organization, but his efforts as a coach are opening many eyes in the hockey world and should be considered for at least an interview as the Bruins next head coach. No matter who ends up behind the bench, I hope Bruins management make the right decision as they move along from one that brought so much success in his tenure in Boston.

Thank You, Claude

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(Jonathan Hayward, AP)

By Court Lalonde (@courtlalonde)

June 22nd, 2007 you became the 28th coach of the Boston Bruins and brought the team back to the playoffs in your first season. The Bruins had missed the playoffs the previous three seasons and seemed the franchise was in disarray.  In 2008 you were rewarded with the Jack Adams Trophy, voted the best coach in the NHL. In those first two years, fans started to see how good of a coach and leader you were and how the players reacted to you.

Your system helped a player like Patrice Bergeron shine and showed the rest of the NHL that he is one of the best two-way centers in the league.  You showed some patience with our young players but also your stubbornness with playing the veterans. You earned the respect of your peers and players and made Montreal regret their decision on letting you go two seasons before.

On June 15th, 2011 you help bring the Stanley Cup back to Boston for the first time in 39 years. You helped bring so much excitement that was lost back into the fans of the Boston Bruins that day and made some new fans for life.You helped shape the career of a young Brad Marchand into the all-star he is now and every now and then, you tried to make sure he didn’t get into trouble.

During the lockout, you embraced the community in Boston and coached a youth hockey team for charity. You held a raffle to chose which team you would coach and all the proceeds went to the Boston Bruins Foundation and Massachusetts Hockey.

2012-13 you brought our beloved Boston Bruins back to the Stanley Cup final only to lose in the sixth game to the Chicago Blackhawks. You followed that up the next year by leading the Bruins to the Presidents’ Trophy by getting first place overall in the NHL. Four times the Bruins finished first in their division while you coached them. In ten seasons with the Boston Bruins you lead them to the playoffs every year but three.  Your total wins as coach were 419, the most of any Bruins coach in the history of the franchise.

Coach is defined as a person who trains an athlete or team of athletes, but you were much more than that to the fans who cheer for the Boston Bruins. You were our voice when the refs blew a call, the person who would yell at the guys when they pissed us off and the guy who we could always count on to tell us like it is. You were there for the good and bad and never shied away from during the bad. We will always remember the look on face when you lifted the cup, and wherever you may end up, you should always know that you have a home in the hearts of every Boston Bruins fan and we will never forget you.

Thank you, Claude