The Boston Bruins’ dominating victory over the Rangers on Wednesday was a milestone for head coach Bruce Cassidy and his players. It was one year ago today that the Bruins brass finally pulled the trigger and fired Claude Julien and replaced him with Cassidy. And all Cassidy’s done since taking over is go 51-19-9 and turn the black and gold into a Stanley Cup contender.
Cassidy has done this by smartly implementing a more aggressive offensive system that gives his talented forwards, Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak, and Brad Marchand more opportunities on offense and scaled back their defensive responsibilities. This was a risky move seeing as how strong Bergeron and Marchand were as two-way forwards. But their talent, and the legacy of former coach Claude Julien’s rigid defensive ethos, has been enough for the forwards to remain defensively effective but much more offensively productive.
Cassidy has also leaned on other forwards for defense and used them in situations that Julien would have used Bergeron and Marchand, thus saving the two stars for more work on offense. In addition, by doing so Cassidy has spread out the responsibilites and created more forwards who can be relied on in situations wher they would not have been in the past. For example, Riley Nash is being trusted in more pressure moments, as are rookies Jake DeBrusk and Danton Heinen.
The Bruins as a team are better served having more options to take a defensive zone faceoff or shut down the opposing top line. Not only does this give the team more flexibility, but it results in the Bruins’ top line getting more offensive chances and thereby producing more offense.
Hiring Bruce Cassidy to replace Claude Julien is proving to be the right move, however overdue it was. The Julien system has its roots in the past and the game of hockey is changing. With Cassidy at the helm, the Bruins will be at the forefront of those changes and not beholden to an antiquated system.