Bruce Cassidy’s next act must be to call out Blues’ embellishment

Matt Kalman
June 04, 2019 - 10:16 am

When you get outshot 39-23, including 13-4 in the third period, the way the Bruins did in a Stanley Cup Final game, you don’t deserve to win.

So any whining about the officiating in the St. Louis Blues’ 4-2 series-evening win in Game 4 is a waste of time. There was a myriad of reasons the Bruins headed home for Game 5 on Thursday with the series tied up, and the officiating was near the bottom of the list.

The Blues went 0-for-3 on their power play. The Bruins went 0-for-2, managed just one shot on net over the four minutes, and nearly coughed up a shorthanded goal to Ryan O’Reilly.

But that doesn’t mean coach Bruce Cassidy can’t take a page out of his St. Louis counterpart’s Craig Berube’s book and do a little politicking during the two days off before Game 5.

After all, the power plays might’ve been nearly even, but the acting wasn't. One had to wonder if Vladimir Tarasenko yelled out “and scene” after he drew a penalty on defenseman Connor Clifton in the second period, the Russian’s sell-job was so blatant.

Jaden Schwartz drew a tripping penalty on Danton Heinen in the third period that made you wonder if the Blues forward was getting ready for swim season. And goalie Jordan Binnington didn’t draw a penalty on Brad Marchand but clearly was getting ready for his second career in Hollywood should his career go the way of Andrew Hammond’s once this Final is through and he has to prove himself over the course of a full NHL season next year.

If Berube thought it was worth lobbying the officials the way he did Sunday after his team actually had five power plays to Boston’s four Boston's 7-2 win in Game 3, then now is a good time for Cassidy to think up some ways to draw attention to the Blues’ new improv troupe without sounding like a whiner. Berube never even mentioned the word officials, he just wondered out loud why his team had been the least-penalized team in the playoffs before the Final but St. Louis was actually getting called on their head-hunting tactics against the Bruins.

Maybe Cassidy could somehow tie in Blues “super fan” Jon Hamm and mention how he appreciates the Mad Men star's style but wishes it didn’t carry over to the Blues on the ice. There’s probably hundreds of ways Cassidy could tweak the Blues and have it seep into the officials room before the next game.

Of course, there’s a little bit of a dilemma because if the Bruins aren’t going to have their top penalty killer Zdeno Chara, they’d be pleased to play a game with fewer penalties. But if they’re only going to score on the power play (or the penalty kill like Brandon Carlo in Game 4), they might rather there be more calls.

Cassidy should say something, if for no other reason than to encourage the Blues to stop embarrassing themselves. They’ve come this far on their grit, determination and physicality, so turning into the Montreal Canadiens on the sport’s biggest stage unseemly.

Forward David Backes already got the ball rolling after Game 4

“[Berube made> a comment to the refs about them being this angelic team about not taking penalties all playoffs, and all of a sudden the whistles are put away,” Backes said. “But that’s, you know what, we’ll keep playing through the stuff we have to. They’re doing it, and we have to find our goals however we need to find them.”

Throughout these playoffs, Cassidy has made all the right adjustments. He’s changed his lineup, altered lines in-game and switched matchups when the Bruins were losing their edge. Cassidy’s never been one to directly attack the officiating directly, but he can throw a subtle verbal jab with the best of them.

It’s time for him to make a different type of coaching adjustment and make sure everyone knows about the Blues’ buffoonery.

 

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