Down by two goals with two minutes left, most people thought it was over. The Boston Bruins were lethargic most of the night, trailing 4-2 to a Minnesota Wild team that has had a nightmare start to the season. At least a thousand fans inside TD Garden didn’t believe it was possible for the home team to fight back. They’d already raced for the exits to avoid lines on the Orange line and traffic out of town.
Bruce Cassidy was not one of those who didn’t believe. “No,” he told reporters on Saturday night when asked if he was surprised that his club battled back and won. Cassidy’s belief got rewarded when David Krejci scored twice in the game’s final two minutes to force overtime. Torey Krug, in his first game back from injury, then won it in overtime.
“Listen… although it was a game you’re sitting there going, you know geez we’re in the game but we can’t seem to get any traction, whether it’s killing penalties and some fortunate bounces for them around the net. I’ll give them credit, they went there, they deserved to get some second chances but hey, you never know in this game,” Cassidy continued.
The Bruins haven’t had to play from behind much this season. Their marquee comeback prior to Saturday’s wild finish came on October 8th. The Bruins fell behind 2-0 to the Vegas Golden Knights, but fought back to win that game 4-3 in Vegas.
It’s something the Bruins don’t want to do, but they know they can do. It helps that one of the strengths of this club is their ability to score with the goaltender pulled. It’s not easy, but the Bruins have a knack for finding the back of the net.
“I think we’ve been good at it. We’ve scored a few,” Cassidy responded when asked about his mindset regarding the 6-on-5. “I guess my thought process is I’d like all six guys going at least five together when they’re coming up the ice. So we were hollering in there, Charlie [McAvoy], he was starting to go but the forwards were tired, to go back to go together. We’re just fortunate the other team didn’t forecheck hard, which typically happens, right?”
We got all our guys out together, both times. Power play we decided we’d go right after it, right away, and it worked out. But that’s kind of our thinking typically, we’re not as mesmerized by the clock. It’s not like, at two-thirty you have to go, or two minutes. We’d like it around one-forty-five-ish, two, whatever, if it’s a minute and a half. But we like all six guys to be fresh, if possible.” That calmness, that confidence, that is what separates Cassidy and the Bruins from so many other teams.
There is also an understanding that while this Bruins team believes in itself and its ability to comeback, it won’t happen every time. Especially when it gets into those final few minutes. “I remember in Colorado we tried this year, got everyone on the ice, they touched it once, threw it on empty net. So sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t,” Cassidy said.
If you’re shocked at what happened at TD Garden on Saturday night, you shouldn’t be. The Bruins are a confident bunch. They are also a smart bunch that learns their lessons during the course of a season. Saturday’s comeback victory was a lesson learned the hard way not so long ago put into action. “We saw it happen to us right here not that long ago, a bigger lead, so it can happen.”