Bruins Try Making Sense Of Their Over-Passing In Loss To Oilers

The Bruins made the extra pass instead of shooting in too many key moments


BOSTON — If you’re trying to figure out why the Boston Bruins refused to shoot on Grade-A opportunities Thursday, you’re not alone.

Heck, they’re not sure either.

Facing a historically leaky goalie in Mikko Koskinen, the Bruins, at times inexplicably, passed up on shots in an eventual 5-3 loss to the Edmonton Oilers. Instead, they elected to make the extra pass, and in doing so often saw the play crumble from there.

“Guys are trying to make plays that aren’t there or they don’t have the ability to make,” Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy candidly said after the game. “It’s 11 games, so you don’t want to — some guys have been in the league for a while so you assume they’re going to make them, but they’re not. So, you have to get the message across that there’s different ways to score goals.

“Not everyone can be (Patrice) Bergeron’s line. Not everyone can play like (Connor) McDavid. … We have addressed (the over-passing), but clearly it’s fallen on deaf ears, so we’ve got to do a better job messaging that.”

The constant deferring didn’t really fell the Bruins until their ill-fated third period. As the lead slipped away from them and the ice tilted more heavily in the Oilers’ favor, it didn’t seem to ratchet up the Bruins’ nose for shooting first.

It got to the point of being perplexing.

“Especially in the third, there were plenty of opportunities for us to shoot the puck,” David Pastrnak, who had a goal in the first period, said. “Definitely over-passed today a little bit, and that’s unacceptable, especially in crunch time. … Just got to get the shooting mentality in our head and be a little bit more aware of the situation and the score.”

It can be tough to diagnose the reasoning for such a propensity to pass over shoot — especially since it tends to come in waves. Sometimes, it can be chalked up to guys lacking the confidence to be assertive in the offensive zone, for whatever reason. Other times, with the score in mind, there’s a desire to try and make sure any shot attempt is a high-percentage attempt.

Whatever the reason, the above options entail thinking a lot. Is that the problem?

“Well, that’s a good question,” Cassidy said. “I think they’re trying to make plays because some of these guys are talented, and that’s what they’ve done in the past. Again, when teams can check well and have good sticks, you’ve got to rethink your attacking strategy.

“And again, as I’ve said before, that’s on us to get the message across because we’re not getting across, so we’ve got to find ways to get it across.”

Boston Bruins goalie Linus Ullmark
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