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Bruins Look To Stay Positive, Take Lessons From Game 1 Loss

Team recognizes lapses, stresses "even keel" approach ahead of Saturday's Game 2

by Michael Tolvo @NHLBruins /

BOSTON - Prior to Thursday night, the Bruins had last seen the Maple Leafs on Jan. 12, a 3-2 victory in Toronto. While the two teams are intimately familiar with one another, having faced each other in the postseason as recently as the 2018 playoffs, the Leafs were able to execute their game plan in Game 1 of the 2019 playoffs despite the Bruins knowing full well what was coming. At practice on Friday, the Black & Gold lamented the effort while noting there is a lot of hockey left to play.

"We didn't have our normal juice that we'd want for Game 1," said Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. "Did we underestimate them? I don't think there is any lack of respect for the Leafs. We had a great battle last year. Teams have changed, players have changed, but the uniform crest hasn't. We know what they're capable of. They're a 100-point team, so I don't think there was a lack of respect. I think there was a lack of - when you don't see a team for a while, when you talk about 'Oh they're going to do this and stretch you out', and all of a sudden they do it and it's in your net, it gets your attention. Talking about it obviously it didn't.

"I hope it got their attention now because it's one of the things they do well. You talk about a team - 'oh they have speed', well so do we and we're going to play our game. And we do want to play our game. Part of neutralizing their speed is having o-zone puck possession time. I think that's where we weren't hard enough to be honest with you. I give them credit, they won a lot of pucks, got out of their end in a hurry. Even the third goal, we're on the rush and it's a 50/50 puck. They win it from us and bang, they're gone. That's where they were better than us in areas and converted."

Video: Cassidy speaks after practice on Friday Morning

The Bruins knew the Maple Leafs like to fly the zone in search of chances off the rush. On Friday, Toronto was able to create multiple breakaways using that tactic, two of which led to goals.

"Toronto getting behind us was addressed for three days," said head coach Bruce Cassidy. "Johnsson got behind us early, obviously the Nylander goal. So we'll have to continue to send that message. Obviously that is on the staff to make sure that gets through - and then how aggressive to be because of that."

While there were obvious mistakes, the Bruins practice on Friday was an opportunity to shore up areas that were lacking in Game 1.

 "You make mistakes during playoffs," said Bruins forward Charlie Coyle. "It's going to happen. We knew what they were capable of and what they were going to do and obviously they beat us at doing that. That's something we looked at again and have to make sure we correct. Did that during video today and had a lot of talk about that. I think we'll be better at that aspect and that'll definitely limit those chances."

In addition to stopping the opportunistic Toronto offense, there were areas of the Bruins own game that could also improve

"Our puck management," noted Cassidy. "Players to me have always been responsible for effort and execution. They control that as soon as they go over the boards. Part of our execution wasn't good enough with the puck last night and our decision making. We talked about appropriate risk, reward. Those are the two biggest things. There are other parts of our game, a little more urgency, a little more physicality. Clean your breakouts.

"But some of that goes to effort, some of that goes to execution. Those are probably the three biggest areas. That's what we talked about this morning and worked on a little bit in practice. Let's hope we carry it over."

Charlie Coyle was a bright spot for the B's on Thursday, leading the team with seven hits while also creating as number of high-quality scoring chances.

"I think Charlie Coyle was very good, arguably our best player," said Cassidy. "Had some good looks at the net, battled for pucks."

Coyle was appearing in his first postseason game for his hometown team.

"I just want to do what I can to help my team win," said Coyle. "I don't think it matters the circumstance, just that's what you set out to do every night. Especially when you play for this team. That's what I want to do every time I put on that jersey. You want to do your best and represent. It's an honor and privilege to play with this team so that's what I want to do and that's the mindset going into every night."

Going into Game 2, Coyle emphasized the need to stay collected as a unit.

"We stay positive through it all no matter what happens," said Coyle. "We stay even keel. If we won last night, same way. You can't get too high, you can't get too low. We always talk about that. That's playoffs. It's easy to get caught up in the ups and downs. We're back it, chance at home again. We're excited to get going again, Game 2. Pretty good practice here to start so everyone's in a good mood."

With multiple Stanley Cup champions and known veteran leadership in the locker room, the Bruins are confident in the groups ability to bounce back.

"We lost one game," said Coyle. "How many teams have gone through playoffs and won every game? It's going to happen. It's how you bounce back. It's how you stay even keel. It's those little things. And those guys, a lot of us have gone through it. It's nice to have that experience and learn from that. Especially the guys first playoffs, it's good to talk about with them. We're all on the same page here and everyone is feeling good. "

Maintenance Day For DeBrusk

Bruins forward Jake DeBrusk was given a maintenance day on Friday and was not on the ice with his teammates for practice.

"Jake was given a maintenance day," said Cassidy. "He will be I assume back with us tomorrow morning. Obviously if he's not feeling well then, we'll have to make a decision. Put [David] Backes in and juggle the lines around. Right now, we anticipate he'll play."

Backes was held out from Game 1 in favor of a faster lineup, but could potentially be back in on Saturday.

"I thought about going with Backes Game 1 too," said Cassidy when asked if he'd consider the veteran forward for the series' second game. "It's just we made a decision that we had to check fast against Toronto. There's two ways to slow down - they're a fast team, either physically slow them down or you skate with them to slow them down. I thought we'd do a better job checking with our legs, skating, than we did last night…

"Obviously, David adds the physicality piece. We'll have an internal discussion - is that a better plan of action? I don't think we executed our game plan very well. That's on again the staff to get that message through. So, we'll see tomorrow. But I won't make that decision today."

A veteran of 13 NHL seasons, the former St. Louis Blues captain tried to take the healthy scratch in stride, while stay ready for a possible return to the lineup.

"I'm going to be honest, separating where the pride ends and where it's just factual at some other point," said Backes. "I'm a prideful guy that has played a long time in this league and feel like I can make an impact on games. I need to be ready when called upon to not be a distraction or a negative impact. These guys are an awesome group of guys and my turn to be in the press box…I watch a hockey game and support my teammates to try to win a game.

"Didn't get the job done in Game 1 but we've been in seesaw series before. We need to get a great response [Saturday] night in a late night game where we can get this thing back even and get to their arena and have a little bit of time on the road to spend time with each other and really grow that bond to put that game on them when we get to Game 3 Monday. But first things first tomorrow night."

Backes' believes his physicality and experience could provide a boost.

"I've always seen the league is that over that seven games you can really wear and beat a team down and make them conscious," said Backes. "What you do in Game 1 wears on to Game 2 and 3 and 4, especially in a physicality manner. Maybe that's changed a little bit and I'm antiquated a little bit but they're a very skilled team, we're a very skilled team and skill on skill, I think they made the most of more of their opportunities than we did in Game 1 and they got the win. Game 2, we'll see what adjustments are made on both sides and both teams looking to get better."

 Video: Backes speaks after practice on Friday Morning

Updates on Kuraly, Moore

Injured Bruins Sean Kuraly and John Moore both took the ice before the full team practice on Friday.

"Both skated today harder than they have," said Cassidy. "Neither will play tomorrow. So, the next best opportunity for them would be Monday."

Kuraly skated with a stick in his hands for the first time since his injury. Friday marks three weeks since Kuraly's injury, which had an expected recovery time of approximately four weeks.

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