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Bruce Cassidy’s Bruins continue to roll with 3rd straight win

02.13.17 at 12:17 am ET
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The Bruins are 3-0-0 under Bruce Cassidy. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins are 3-0-0 under Bruce Cassidy. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Interim head coach Bruce Cassidy admitted that he was going to be able to sleep well when he won his Bruins head coaching debut last Thursday. That sleep will continue through the B’s bye week, too, as the Bruins have rattled off three wins in as many games under Cassidy.

They apparently saved their best for the last game of what was a do-or-die type of weekend, as the Bruins rolled the Canadiens to a 4-0 final with contributions across the board and in all situations.

“Yeah it is,” Cassidy said when asked if this was the perfect high note to go into their five-day bye on. “It was a tough game tonight, you never know how those games are going to go, a big rivalry and it went our way. I thought we were full value for it. I thought we got better as the game went on, we dealt with some adversity, we were able to get the two points and that’s always enjoyable.”

In a rivalry that’s been one-sided over the last few seasons, especially in games played in Boston (the Bruins entered play with losses in nine straight home games against the Habs, their last win coming all the way back in Jan. 2012), they stayed true to the aggressive tendencies established in wins over the Sharks and Canucks.

And have yet another win to show for it.

With the pressure tilted towards the Canadiens’ Carey Price early, the Bruins rewarded with Adam McQuaid’s second goal of the season, scored just 8:57 into the first period. It would hold as the only goal of the period, but not before the Bruins had to kill off 1:37 of a 5-on-3 against, as Tuukka Rask escaped the period with stops on all 11 shots thrown his way.

It was in the second period that the Black and Gold took this game over, though, with a breakneck pace (and aided by four penalties taken by the Canadiens compared to just two for the Bruins), with 17 shots hammered on Price, along with two goals.

The first goal of the period came on a beautiful move by Bruins captain Zdeno Chara to dangle through multiple skaters before he ripped home his first shorthanded goal since 2011, and the second was on an excellent power-play passing sequence between Peter Cehlarik, David Backes, and finished off by a shot from David Krejci just 10 minutes after the Chara goal.

These in-game takeovers are something that was rarely seen from this group at any point this season under Claude Julien. And that’s not to suggest that Julien’s style did not work (because it worked for a very long time), but rather that a new voice was needed to kick those in-game adjustments from the players into the necessary gear given the stakes that come with a stretch run.

“At times we certainly played with [energy and confidence],” Cassidy said of the team’s early season struggles versus where they are now. “I think there’s been solid games for our group throughout the year, we’ve had others where we’ve just needed more confidence. So it’s bits and pieces. We just need it more consistently and hopefully this is a step in that direction.”

“It’s a level of intensity that has gone up, a level of commitment that’s gone up, a level of execution that’s gone up, and a level of belief,” Backes said when asked what’s changed for this team. “It seems like a different team when we are out there.”

Understanding the potential of this becoming a mere ‘sugar-high’ of the Bruins finding early success with a new voice behind the bench, it’s telling that every game has come with a noticeable improvements in areas of concern in the game before.

“We took one game at a time. Big games, every one of them. We knew that we needed to be better,” Chara acknowledged. “I think we were doing the right things in every game and trying to build on those. There were still mistakes, but we recovered and found a way to score goals, to defend, when we needed big saves, we got big saves. These are big points for us going into the bye week. We can only control how we play and I think we did that. So, now, it’s time to take some rest and be ready when we get back.”

But now comes the next challenge for the Bruins: finding a way to keep this going when their bye ends.

Something Cassidy, whose team is now just six points out of first place in the Atlantic Division, knows he can’t lose sleep over.

“If we take care of business, if the Boston Bruins take care of the Boston Bruins hopefully we will be good enough,” Cassidy said.

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