The Bruins were understandably a frustrated bunch following their 4-2 Game 3 loss to the Leafs in Toronto that cut Boston’s series lead in half heading into Game 4 Thursday at the ACC Centre. Despite piling 42 shots on Leafs goalie Frederick Andersen, the Bruins were unable to come away with a win as their top line was held pointless for the first time in the series.
The Bruins also felt they were the victims of what many described as a bad call by the referrees, who claimed forward Riley Nash shot a puck into the stands without hitting the boards or the glass, despite all replays clearly showing the puck hit the top of the glass. Nash went to the penalty box for delay of game and Toronto forward James van Riemsdyk scored on the ensuing power play to give his team a 1-0 lead 17:05 into the first period.
The “over the glass” penalty that led to the Leafs power play goal pic.twitter.com/5UbxiJ6twh
— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) April 16, 2018
Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy – who doesn’t criticize referees publicly that often – had a hard time biting his tongue after the game and rightfully so.
“Now they get together, and I assume they want to make the right call,” Cassidy said in the post game presser. “That’s the idea, we understand that. But they all got together and clearly they guessed, because it hit the glass — we saw that. I think you are innocent until proven guilty. I don’t think you can guess and give someone a power play.”
“My question was: who made the call?” Cassidy said. “There’s no call immediately. When a referee makes a call you kind of live with it because it’s decisive. So now they get together and I assume they want to make the right call, that’s the idea, but to me they got together and clearly they guessed because it hit the glass and we saw that. I think you’re kinda innocent until proven guilty.”
Casdidy went on to say he just wants the league to get it right so not only his team isn’t victimized, but any NHL team and especially in such a crucial situation. He was however, not going to pin the loss on just that call.
“I think if it happened against us I’d say the same thing,” the Bruins coach said. “You have to be sure it goes out to make that call. Be sure on it if you’re gonna come together. Certainly not the difference in the game, but you don’t want to play from behind. They capitalized, doesn’t mean that because you disagree with the call that it’s gonna result in a goal,” said Cassidy. “They made a good play, they got on top of the crease and earned it, earned their ice. Give them credit.”
What was a major factor in the Leafs getting back into this series, was the fact that they adapted to the Bruins first line of Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-David Pastrnak – who was en fuego with 20 points in the first two games – and held them pointless in Game 3. Toronto head coach Mike Babcock’s decision to put Tomas Plekanec, a defensive-minded and shutdown forward, between Patrick Marleau and Mitch Marner on the second line paid off as the former Hab did a brilliant job shutting down the Bruins top trio. That combined with Andersen’s best game of the series in net, helped the Leafs find their game and earn their first win of the series.
Save of the year?
Another look at Andersen’s crazy stick save pic.twitter.com/5vgNezsLUH
— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) April 17, 2018
While Cassidy praised the Leafs for their changes and success, he wasn’t about to throw hius top line under the bus either.
“I thought our top line was fine for the most part,” Bruins coach Cassidy said after Game 4. “Just didn’t finish. Pasta got robbed about three, four times. [Andersen] made head-scratching saves at the end. Now some of it is when you’re pressing, but still at the end of the day they can be better.
They had a tougher matchup tonight and [the Maple Leafs] were determined to keep them off the scoresheet and they did. We’re not surprised by that. They’re a very good team, they’re good at home, it didn’t go their way in Boston. Well-documented, they didn’t defend well enough and they put an onus on that. Having said that, I thought we generated enough offense to win. That was not the problem for us.”
Bergeron didn’t seem to worried about his linemate Pastrnak, who was all gooseeggs after a record setting pair of games in Games 1 and 2.
“He’s the type of guy that is going to want it even more next game,” Bergeron said. “That’s the approach we need to have.”
As a result of keeping the Bruins’ top line in check, the Leafs were able to execute their dangerous transition game. On Tuesday, an off day for both teams, defenseman Charlie McAvoy discussed what the Bruins need to do to slow the Leafs down again.
“You want to limit their chances, their opportunities as much as you can,” said McAvoy. “But you’ve got to realize that they’re special, they’re gifted hockey players. They’re gonna get chances, they are. It’s really just about limiting them and trying to keep them out of those danger areas. We’ve been able to do that. But they were going to break through at some point. Fine, we get that game out of the way and get refocused and get ready for Game 4.”