By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Head coach Bruce Cassidy believes that in their series against the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Boston Bruins are getting the “short end of the stick.”
Cassidy made that very clear on Saturday afternoon, after the Bruins lost 3-1 to the Lightning to fall behind in the series three games to one. For the second straight game, Cassidy made it a point to note that he did not entirely agree with the officiating on the ice.
The first question Cassidy was asked at his postgame video press conference was about the deflating effect of giving up the second goal of the game in the second period. The coach went straight to an officiating complaint that had little to do with the question.
“You’re in a one-goal game, and you feel you’ve played through some stuff,” Cassidy said.
Cassidy expressed a belief that Cedric Paquette’s first-period hit on Karson Kuhlman — which resulted in no penalty and actually led to a Tampa power play because of Nick Ritchie responding — was very similar to Ritchie’s second-period hit on Yanni Gourde.
“Again tonight, in the first period, out guy Kuhlman gets drilled from behind, and we go in to confront the situation — and we’re on the short end of the stick,” Cassidy said of Ritchie getting a roughing minor for going after Paquette following the hit. “And we saw what happened on a very similar hit later. So there’s a little bit of that going on in the series.”
Cassidy cited three examples of calls going against Boston in Game 3’s 7-1 loss, but that night, he conceded that his team didn’t quite play well enough to deserve to win. This time, after a 3-1 loss, he believed his team did play evenly with their opponent, so the swing that came from the non-call and the major call was significant.
The Ritchie hit initially led to no penalty being called, either, but eventually the officials sent Ritchie to the box for a five-minute major penalty for boarding.
“Well the discipline was nothing originally,” Cassidy said. “There was no call. And then it turned into a five-minute major. Not sure — I guess we’ll get an explanation or we won’t. I don’t know. I didn’t get one of why that changed.”
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) August 29, 2020
Cassidy seemed to suggest — by way of referring to Gourde as “clever” — that the Lightning forward might have been embellishing his injury in order to draw a major penalty. Cassidy noted that Gourde returned to the game in the third period.
“Clearly, Gourde was down on the play, and he’s a good player — real good player for them. Clever, obviously,” Cassidy said. “Got them on the power play for five minutes. He finished the game, had no problems in the third period. So I didn’t agree with the call.”
Cassidy once again referred back to the Paquette hit on Kuhlman as an apples-to-apples comparison.
“As I said, Kuhlman got hit by Paquette late in the first period. Very, very, very, very, very, very similar hit. No call,” Cassidy said. “But I guess we’ll ask that question and find out what the thinking was.”
Nick Ritchie jumps Cedric Paquette after his hit on Karson Kuhlman pic.twitter.com/QkuqTXeJSV
— Evan Marinofsky (@emarinofsky) August 29, 2020
Ritchie was asked about his hit on Gourde, and he said he was just trying to finish his hit.
“I thought on the play there was … I had no intent to put a guy on the ice and injure anybody,” Ritchie said. “Just finishing my hit. I thought I did a good job keeping my arm down, and it was shoulder-to-shoulder. Maybe he wasn’t expecting it. He had just gotten rid of the puck. I’m just playing my game. That’s part of it. Sometimes stuff like that happens.”
Considering Ritchie gave the Lightning seven minutes of power play — which resulted in one goal against — the coach was asked if he believes the big-bodied winger needs to tone down his aggressive play. Cassidy adamantly disagreed with the suggestion.
“No. I mean there was no call. I mean, he’s finishing a check. It happens all the time,” Cassidy said. “He played through a player’s shoulder, as I saw it — shoulder-to-shoulder hard. I don’t know if the explanation was that is was late or if a 225-pound man hits a 170-pound man and that’s why the penalty was called. Because I said, I think Paquette did the same thing, if not worse, to Kuhlman in the first period. So the standard is set. I mean, that is what officials do. They set the standard. The players adjust to it and adapt to it, game in, game out. So no, I thought he did a good job. That’s what he’s asked to do: be hard on people, stick up for your teammates, go to the net, score dirty goals, make plays off the wall. All of those things. So that hit was part of the job description. And he did it. They reversed the call and at the end of the day, it went against us. But we want Ritch to be physical, not reckless, and that’s what we thought he was. But it didn’t work out that way.”