Why Bruins Are Equipped To Handle Adjustments In Stanley Cup Playoffs

Bruce Cassidy explains why the B's are so good at making necessary changes


Jun 1, 2021

The Bruins are a really good hockey team for reasons that extend beyond pure talent.

Sure, they have that in spades. They’re deep and balanced. But Boston’s ability to make adjustments — both in-game and between games — is a real advantage when navigating the Stanley Cup playoffs.

So, what makes the Bruins so good at adapting on the fly? Well, it starts with communication.

“I think they’re a very coachable group,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy told reporters Tuesday during a video conference. “What we’ve tried to implement throughout the year, change along the way, they’re willing to do. The interesting part with that question is we have a veteran group that you can go over video, talk to them between periods — you know, the (Brad) Marchands, the (David) Krejcis, the (Patrice) Bergerons. And then you have a young group that needs to see it a little more and live it and practice it on the back end. So it’s an interesting dynamic in that regard.

“Some of the adjustments, I think, you’re dealing with a little bit of a two-headed monster where you’ve got to go to part of your group and sort of walk through it a little bit more and then, like I said, the older guys it’s more like, ‘OK, here’s what we’re looking at. Remember against so-and-so opponent we made this switch,’ and they can handle it quicker. And that’s just guys where they are in their careers. And that’s fine, that’s on us as a staff to make sure the message does get across however you’re going to get it across.”

Having an experienced, veteran core certainly helps. Bergeron is in his 17th NHL season. Krejci is in his 15th. Marchand his 12th. Tuukka Rask his 14th. All with Boston.

But while that continuity breeds cohesion, on and off the ice, the culture in Boston consistently has strengthened thanks to the organization’s coaching staff and leadership group building bridges rather than walls when it comes to new arrivals. The Bruins are willing to change their collective identity –on a micro and macro level — if it means a better shot at winning the Stanley Cup.

Take Game 2 of the Bruins’ current series against the New York Islanders, for instance. Boston improved significantly from the second period to the third period Monday night at TD Garden despite ultimately losing in overtime. And with the series now shifting to Long Island for Game 3 on Thursday night, the Bruins are prepared to go back under the hood in search of a winning formula.

“Certainly (Monday night) we could’ve done a better job in the second period as a staff. We learned from that, did make some adjustments for the third and got more out of our group,” Cassidy said. “So at the end of the day, we have to be better as a staff, as well, to make sure that those things happen for us. And hopefully your players understand it and are able to execute the things that you’re telling them.

“And then at the end of the day, it’s a fluid game. Things happen quickly out there. You rely on your players to make good decisions. That’s what all the work you do all year is for. I think our guys are good at that. So are theirs. And that’s why we’re still playing. And so are they.”

It’s no coincidence the Bruins typically have been a tough out in the postseason over the last decade-plus.

Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images
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