‘Cliffy Hockey’ is back for the Boston Bruins and it couldn’t have returned at a better time!
Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy made the decision to keep defenseman Connor Clifton in the lineup over Jeremy Lauzon for Game 4 against the Carolina Hurricanes Monday morning.
“Cliffy played well the other day. Moved the puck, had juice in his game, was physical…stuff he typically does well.,” said Cassidy. “We felt Cliffy could bring that. I gotta say he didn’t play a lot of hockey this year. Going into the pause, Jeremy [Lauzon] did play and did play well for us, so that was the thinking why he would get the first crack at it. It just seems like in this series, the ability to move the puck out of your zone, foot-speed in that regard, the decision-making, making good plays, Cliffy might have a little bit of an edge on Jeremy right now because of his experience in the playoffs, and his make-up. So, that’s the reason for the switch. I think no matter who goes in, out guys are typically ready. We’ve got great depth. Cliffy did his job, and he did it well.”
And the switch would be one that would help the Boston Bruins rally over the Hurricanes to take a 3-1 series lead.
Boston Bruins forward Jake DeBrusk scored 7:26 into the final frame of regulation to bring some life to the team. The goal cut the Hurricane’s lead in half, 2-1. Less than three minutes later, the Bruins would tie the game from an unlikely player, but in timely fashion.
Joakim Nordstrom skated the puck along the end-boards behind James Reimer then passed it to Connor Clifton who was waiting at the top of the hashmarks of the left face-off circle.
Clifton one-timed a shot into traffic in front of Reimer, right over the net-minder’s glove side and into the net, tying the game at two goals apiece.
— BOSHockeyNow (@BOSHockeyNow) August 18, 2020
It is apparent that the Bruins have struggled to get into a shot-first mentality, but for Clifton, passing the opportunity to shoot was not even a thought.
“Great pass by Nordy, but I was ready to shoot all the way,” said Clifton. “I guess second intermission, Butchy was harping on us to getting more pucks to the net and bodies, and we did exactly that. Great front-net presence by those guys in front, and fortunately it went in.”
Postgame, Cassidy was in high spirits for Clifton’s goal.
“Cliffy, he wanted to let the coaching staff know that they can do it,” said Cassidy. “That they [the defense] can get the job done. So, I was very happy for him. I mean he’s come into the lineup, hasn’t a lot of hockey, a couple points tonight, big goal for us. In that fourth line, Nordy deserves to be rewarded. He played hard, and he was really really good for us. Nice to see them get on the score sheet as well.”
While taking a 3-1 series lead is great, the sophomore defenseman is just happy to contribute to the victory.
“It was an awesome game, but obviously I’ve been ready,” said Clifton “I’ve been preparing physically [and] mentally for the past five months. So, it was just about getting an opportunity, and try to just compete and play hard. Just fortunate to get a goal tonight.”
The Bruins will look to win the series Wednesday evening in Game 5 against the Hurricanes.