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B's Focused on Shaking Off the Rust

Boston's offensive game (three goals) has struggled through two games

by Eric Russo @erusso22 /

LAS VEGAS - Bruce Cassidy is staying patient for the time being.

He knows that just two games into the regular season, some of the Bruins' bad offseason habits are still in the process of being kicked from their systems. So, while his charges have managed just three goals through two games - though both of them victories - Cassidy is not quite ready to slap the panic button.

"I wouldn't say frustration. I don't think we're playing the way we need to right now to score, not generating enough, let's start with that," Cassidy said following the Bruins' practice at T-Mobile Arena on Monday afternoon. "We're not playing off an original shot, we're trying to make plays through sticks that maybe aren't there.

"It's a lot to do with how you play in August. It's not really live, you're always trying to make that nice play instead of maybe a play that will generate a loose puck situation and off you go."

Cassidy pointed to Brad Marchand's goal in the Bruins' 1-0 victory over the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday night as a good example of how Boston can begin to draw out of its early offensive slump.

"That's how we scored the other night - we came down the wing, shot it, we got them before they were set in their coverage, got a puck to the slot and it found its way in," said Cassidy. "Those are the types of goals right now that our whole group needs to think about scoring. We talked about it today, whether it kicks in today or the next day, I don't know. I hope it's against Vegas because we are capable of more."

Ahead of the team's practice in Vegas, the coaching staff tried to hammer home those points with a video session that included a focus on having better spacing in the offensive zone.

"I think it's just getting some reps, in-game live action for some of our guys that haven't played a lot," said Cassidy. "Part of that will clean itself up with these games on the schedule coming. [Vegas] is a heavy team, a good hockey team. It should get their attention.

"But we want to get our offense going a little bit. I don't think we're making a lot of plays in the O-zone. That has to do with our spacing in the O-zone. We met this morning and talked a little bit about that."

Fortunately for the Bruins, their defensive efforts have been stellar thus far. Boston has allowed just one goal, with Tuukka Rask (28 saves) and Jaroslav Halak (35-save shutout) picking up right where they left off last season.

"Obviously our goaltenders are playing really well, we rely on them heavily," said Matt Grzelcyk. "I think just as a team we have good layers and structure and we try to stick with that as best we can, try not to get out of position too much. Obviously as defensemen we want to try to add to the rush when we can, but still limit chances the other way."

Video: Bruins 1-on-1: Matt Grzelcyk

Backes Could Draw In

After sitting out Saturday's win over the Coyotes as a healthy scratch, David Backes could be back in the lineup against Vegas. Cassidy liked Backes' game in the B's Opening Night victory in Dallas, but with Brad Marchand and David Krejci banged up in Arizona, he opted for the versatility of Par Lindholm on Boston's fourth line.

"We'll announce tomorrow who's in…Backes played well the first game, he was the odd-man out the other night," said Cassidy. "We tried to explain that Marchy was coming back, was a little banged up and so was Krejci off an injury. We wanted Lindholm in there - he covers one as a center, the other's a killer.

"They got through the game no problem, felt good, physically fine. We don't necessarily have to dress a guy for insurance purposes. David probably draws back in, bigger lineup. He played well his first game…who comes out, we'll decide in the morning."

Nordstrom Getting Closer

Joakim Nordstrom practiced in full again on Monday afternoon and has been medically cleared but will not play against the Golden Knights. Cassidy prefers that the winger - who is recovering from an undisclosed injury suffered in training camp - gets a few more practices under his belt before returning to the lineup.

"What we want to be careful of is the guys that didn't practice a lot, we threw them right in, there's a little bit of rust," said Cassidy. "He didn't play any exhibition games. We're gonna try to approach that one differently than we did with a couple of the other guys. His target date now becomes Thursday. He won't play [in Vegas]."

Video: Cassidy speaks in Vegas

Monday's Practice Lineup 

Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - David Pastrnak

Jake DeBrusk - David Krejci - Karson Kuhlman

Danton Heinen - Charlie Coyle - Brett Ritchie

Chris Wagner - Sean Kuraly/Par Lindholm - David Backes

Joakim Nordstrom


Zdeno Chara - Charlie McAvoy

Torey Krug - Brandon Carlo

Matt Grzelcyk - Connor Clifton

Steven Kampfer


Tuukka Rask

Jaroslav Halak

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