Bruce Cassidy was left pondering some tough questions after the Maple Leafs handed the Bruins a 2-1 defeat on Friday night. The loss pushed Boston to the verge of elimination.
The Bruins head coach wondered whether his team’s failure to execute was due to Toronto or a lack of focus. He noted that players the team relies on defensively and on the forecheck made bad reads and mental mistakes.
“That’s frustrating as a coach in Game 87,” Cassidy told reporters after practice Saturday. “And the message, so you’re like, ‘Have I not got through to it or are these guys just not dialed in?’ We’re going to keep sending that message but they better get dialed in here. Like I said, no room for error.”
Toronto can end Boston’s season with a win at home in Game 6 on Sunday at 3 p.m. The Bruins, who finished seven points ahead of the Maple Leafs in the Atlantic Division, are staring down their second first-round exit in three seasons.
Cassidy acknowledged there was a lack of urgency in the Bruins’ play Friday. As Boston prepares to fight to extend their season, both the head coach and the team’s veterans are pushing that imperative message across.
“I don’t think this team has reached where it can get to yet in the playoffs at all in terms of team play,” he said.
It appears that directive did filter through to the Bruins players. Defenseman Charlie McAvoy, who had a goal and an assist in Game 4, recognized that every Boston player will need to play to the best of their abilities at Scotiabank Arena.
“Whether that’s big blocked shots, scoring goals, killing plays, whatever it is,” he said. “Our backs are against the wall now. Every shift matters.”
On Sunday, Cassidy hopes his team plays on its toes and pushes the puck, like they’ve done all season.
“We won a lot more than we lost, but that’s typically how we play and I’d like to see us go back to our identity in that regard,” he said, per WEEI. “Now some of that has been, ‘Well Toronto stretches the zone, we’ve got to be aware.’ So maybe there’s too much thinking and not enough frickin’ playing, and that’s kind of what we’re up against now.”