By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) — With a number of younger, less experienced players up and down his lineup, Bruce Cassidy expects — to a reasonable degree — to see some mistakes on the ice. But the Bruins head coach doesn’t expect that kind of play from his veterans.

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But after Thursday night’s 4-1 loss to Pittsburgh — a loss that dropped the Bruins to a disappointing 6-5-3 over the past month — Cassidy said some of the Bruins’ most reliable players were to blame for the overall poor showing.

“We’ve had games like this, where we just don’t respect the process, we don’t respect taking care of the puck. Good offensive teams kind of shove it right up, you know? And that’s what happens,” Cassidy said. “A lot of it was our top guys tonight. Yeah, our younger guys are learning the ropes here a little bit, but we’ve gotta do a better job of taking care of the puck. It’s that simple.”

Cassidy was asked to expand on that frustration, but his response sounded like that of a parent who’s at his wit’s end.

“I’m not frustrated with those guys. I’m disappointed that they don’t recognize the value of the puck and where we are in the game and they haven’t stepped up a little more,” Cassidy said. “So there’s no frustration with the older guys. They know what’s at stake. They’ve been to Stanley Cup Finals. They know the way the game’s played. They just need to respect it and play that way.”

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Cassidy pinpointed the issue of being careless with the puck as Boston’s main problem against Pittsburgh. It was certainly evident on Pittsburgh’s third goal, which came less than two minutes after a Brad Marchand goal had cut the Penguins’ lead to one goal.

“We’ve had trouble executing for a while now. It’s one of the reasons our offensive numbers are down,” Cassidy said. “We’re not clean. We don’t take care of the puck well enough.”

Marchand didn’t sound overly concerned with Pastrnak in particular, calling him the best goal scorer in the league. But he spoke more broadly about what the team needs to do to simply play better hockey.

“I think at times, we make it a little tougher on ourselves than we need to,” Marchand said. “Against a team that has the ability to score on the rush, we just have to be a little more simple and direct with the puck, win some more battles.”

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Marchand and the rest of the Bruins will get another crack at the Penguins in a Saturday matinee. They’ll want to win the game, obviously, but as any wayward child knows, they’ll be eager to make sure they don’t leave the man in charge feeling disappointed.