Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy made no qualms Friday about still being upset and frustrated about what he called was “egregious” officiating in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final. But he also knows he and his team must move on from the tough 2-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues that pushed the Bruins to the brink of elimination for Game 6 in St. Louis Sunday. As Cassidy pointed out, the Blues themselves moved on from the worst non-call of the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs when San Jose Sharks forward Timo Meier made the infamous hand pass that led to the overtime winner by Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final.
“Our play should define us, not a call,” Cassidy told the media Friday. “That will be part of the message. We’ve played through certain situations, and we have to play through this one. It’s not going to be brought up in the locker room. It happened. I thought we responded fairly well, got ourselves back in the game and had a chance to win. But our play has to define us on the ice, not a non-call or whatever.
St. Louis has done a terrific job with it; they had one go against them and they pushed on,” added Cassidy, mentioning the horrendous missed hand pass that cost St. Louis a game in the Western Conference Final against the San Jose Sharks. “High character in their locker room and we have the same high character. I suspect we’ll put it behind us and off we go.”
Cassidy did try to offer insight into why he, as a coach, is still affected by it and emotional. The non-call that aggravated the B’s bench boss the most was the slew-foot by Blues forward Tyler Bozak on Bruins forward Noel Acciari that led to the eventual game-winner by Blues winger David Perron at 10:36 of the third period.
“The other part, just to expand a little. I’ve coached Noel Acciari for a long time. He’s hard on the puck. That’s his job, to win pucks; he’s a penalty killer and a shot blocker,” Cassidy pointed out about the Bruins forward. “After the game, it’s tough when you lose and you generally don’t address the group. They will time to time, but you walk through the room and you see a guy who you can tell is despondent. He feels like he cost his team the game, and there’s a guy I feel for,” said Cassidy. “I’ve grown tight to this group, these players, because they lay it on the line. I feel as bad for him as anything else. There was no call so he feels like he didn’t win his puck battle, and that’s a tough one. I have to pick that player up as well, so that’s a little bit of the emotion after the game.”
Emotions aside and right or wrong, the task is on him and his staff to help the players move on and be ready for a do-or-die game in Game 6 at St. Louis Sunday night.
“The emotion now is we have to put it behind us and we have to win Game 6,” he said. “That’s what’s in front of us and that’s where my mindset is today.”