By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — After a 7-1 loss in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, it’s generally not one thing that led to the very bad night. It’s generally not two things or even just three things. Typically, it’s a whole lot of things that lead to such a lopsided score.
Despite that reality, after a six-goal loss on Wednesday night to fall behind Tampa 2-1 in the series, Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy couldn’t help but feel a little bit bothered by some instances of what he considered questionable officiating in the first period.
“The first period we were fine,” Cassidy said. “Pretty even period. Obviously … a couple of breaks didn’t go our way. A couple of questionable calls, in my estimation, obviously didn’t help. And then you’re chasing the game.”
Cassidy pointed out three examples of the men in stripes impacting the game in a way he didn’t quite enjoy.
The first instance came just 37 seconds into the game, when Brandon Carlo was sent to the box for tripping.
“Not even sure Brandon’s was [a penalty],” Cassidy said in the midst of a longer disagreement with officiating on the night.
The Bruins killed that early penalty, but later in the first, Nick Ritchie was sent off for slashing against Pat Maroon. While Ritchie did unquestionably slash Maroon in the shin pads, Cassidy said it was an act that doesn’t often result in a penalty.
“I mean the call on Ritchie happens 100 times a game. We happened to get flagged for it, right?” Cassidy said. “So complete disagreement with that particular infraction.”
They called this slash on Nick Ritchie in the postseason? YIKES pic.twitter.com/8Nquw0ONLs
— Evan Marinofsky (@emarinofsky) August 27, 2020
The Lightning scored on that power play, ending a lengthy cold stretch without scoring on the man advantage.
Cassidy suggested that both early penalty calls did not need to be called at all, especially in a game of this magnitude.
“We’ve got an official injecting himself into the game with two of the best teams in the National Hockey League playing,” Cassidy said. “And I thought that it wasn’t necessary, personally. But that’s his decision. He’s here for a reason.”
The third instance cited by Cassidy was without question a case of the on-ice officials directly impacting play, though this one was not a bad call or a missed call. This one involved linesman Devin Berg accidentally planting himself directly in the path of Bruins defenseman Jeremy Lauzon, who was in pursuit of Yanni Gourde as he carried the puck up the right wall in the Bruins’ zone.
Berg could not get out of Lauzon’s way, and the two collided, thus giving Gourde a free pass to the front of the net, where he beat Jaroslav Halak to score just 15 seconds after Tampa scored its first goal.
“Second goal, I mean, come on,” Cassidsy said. “The linseman just runs our D out of room. Like, it’s a free pass to the net. Good for Yanni Gourde for taking advantage of a break given to him, but I mean, when do you see that play happen in the National Hockey League?”
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) August 27, 2020
From there, things unraveled for Boston. An undeniable Patrice Bergeron high-stick early in the second led to another power-play goal for the Lightning, who went on to chase Halak from the game before putting three pucks past rookie Dan Vladar, who was making his NHL debut under most unenviable circumstances. While Cassidy pointed to a number of the Bruins’ own issues in the 7-1 loss, he still couldn’t quite get past those early instances of what he considered to be bad officiating.
“So now you’re in a two-nothing hole, and you’ve played not a bad period,” Cassidy said. “The rest of the game, we didn’t respond. That’s what I said, the disappointing part about that is we weren’t able to get ourselves back in the game by killing any further penalties or creating offense of having our pushback. That’s what we lacked tonight, for whatever reason. But it’s over. We’re going to focus on Game 4; 7-1, 2-1, a loss is a loss. They’re up 2-1. I think we’ve got a good group in there. I know we have a good group in there. They’re resilient. Like I said, we’ll lick our wounds tomorrow, get away from the rink and get ready for Game 4.”