Bruce Cassidy calls out Bruins’ ‘middle of the order,’ penalty kill in Game 5 loss

The Bruins lost 5-1 on Tuesday, marking their third road loss of the series.

Bruce Cassidy's Bruins squad had another tough go of it on the road in their first-round series against the Hurricanes. John Tlumacki/Globe Staff
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Entering their first-round series against the Hurricanes, the Bruins needed to win at least one game in Carolina in order to advance. Through the first three games down South, they haven’t. And the contests haven’t been close, either.

Boston fell 5-1 to Carolina in Tuesday’s Game 5, going down 3-2 in the series to put them on the brink of elimination. The Bruins have allowed five goals in each of the three games they’ve played in Carolina, scoring a total of four goals in those three games.

The start of Game 5 was similar for the Bruins to the starts of Games 1 and 2. Boston had eight shot attempts (five on net) in the first six minutes of the game before Carolina defenseman Jaccob Slavin scored to give the Hurricanes a 1-0 lead.


Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy certainly sensed a similar theme.

“The start was good. [Patrice] Bergeron’s line had a number of good chances,” he said. “Again, three times in this building I thought we were the better team in the first six, seven, or whatever it was minutes. And then, they had one chance and it found its way in. So, that sort of gives them a lot juice. So, that part was good.”

Slavin’s goal wasn’t the prettiest looking goal. The defenseman skated clear to the right faceoff circle, firing off a wrist shot that was initially stopped by Bruins goalie Jeremy Swayman. However, Swayman wasn’t able to gain control of the puck, which slowly made its way into the net.

Cassidy used the first goal the Bruins allowed as an example in all the areas he was disappointed with his team on Tuesday.

“[There was] not enough up and down the lineup. We’re going to need a little bit more, whether it’s working hard to keep the puck out of the net – which we did up in Boston a lot better, blocking shots, finishing checks so guys can’t join the rush, sorting out coverages quick. So like, the first goal shouldn’t happen if we’re on our toes defensively, too,” he said.


“So, that concerns me. We’ve got to get some guys going. That’s on me to find a way to get them going. But it’s also that time of the year where that inner drive comes through. That’s what we’re looking at.”

Cassidy switched up the lines throughout the final two periods. Tomas Nosek didn’t play after the first and Jake DeBrusk moved back to the top line after the second period.

Those changes didn’t provide much of a spark, though. Defenseman Connor Clifton scored the team’s lone goal in Game 5 in the third period, cutting the Hurricanes’ lead to 3-1 at the time.

But the Bruins haven’t gotten much scoring-wise outside of the “Perfection Line” (Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak) in this series. Taylor Hall’s scored two goals, but only has one 5-on-5 goal since Game 1. Charlie Coyle and Jake DeBrusk are the team’s only other goal scorers, with DeBrusk’s goal coming on a power play in Game 4.

As the majority of the forwards have struggled to even put up a point, Cassidy wasn’t shy in sharing his disappointment.

“The middle of the order, whatever you want to call it, we need more out of them,” Cassidy said.


He also shared his frustration with the Bruins’ penalty kill in Game 5, which gave up two goals in five opportunities.

“We’ve just got to do a better job on the penalty kill when our number’s called,” Cassidy said. “We’ve been very good on special teams up until tonight. They were the better team on it [in Game 5].”

One area Cassidy didn’t share as much disappointment in was with his goalie, Jeremy Swayman. The rookie netminder allowed four goals on 37 shots in Game 5. He didn’t start the first two games of the series (Linus Ullmark got the nod for the first games in Carolina), so Tuesday’s game was his first road playoff start. While Cassidy said he hasn’t decided who’ll start in net for Game 6, he didn’t sound like he’s ready to make a change again.

“Not as clean as he has been. He had some tough puck luck,” Cassidy said of Swayman’s performance. “The first one, we talk about timely saves, they got a few early on. We need that one.”

“He gave us a chance after that. There was a stretch we weren’t very good in front of him. Mismanaged some pucks,” the coach added. “He made some timely saves to give us a chance to stay in it. I’m certainly not putting this on Jeremy.”

The Bruins will take the ice at home on Thursday for Game 6, looking to force a Game 7.


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