Bruce Cassidy defends Bruins’ toughness after soft response to Tuukka Rask injury

Matt Kalman
January 16, 2020 - 2:12 pm

The Bruins made a half-hearted attempt to get revenge on Columbus Blue Jackets forward Emil Bemstrom on Tuesday after the rookie nailed goalie Tuukka Rask in the head.

Rask was placed on injured reserve Thursday because of a concussion.

Although a lot of focus has been on the Bruins’ non-action against the Blue Jackets, their passivity has come up before, especially in their Dec. 23 game against Washington when no one retaliated against Tom Wilson or T.J. Oshie after their questionable hits against Torey Krug and Charlie McAvoy, respectively.

After the morning skate in preparation for Thursday night’s home game against Pittsburgh, coach Bruce Cassidy was asked about the criticism of his team for not defending each other. Cassidy said he hadn’t heard a lot of it, but then he responded:

“I do believe that this team plays together, sticks together, has been accountable for years. We’re not the same makeup that maybe we were in the ’70s or 2011 for that matter. We’ve tried to change our roster, that’s [general manager Don Sweeney> and I, both have had discussions, who we’ve drafted. I don’t draft, but you draft skill like Bjork, Heinen, DeBrusk, put Pastrnak in this mix too, because he’s that type of skill player, and that’s the direction we’ve tried to go while … keeping the … well obviously Zee is more than toughness. But Kevan Miller happens to be injured, that’s a tough one. Connor Clifton’s a guy that gives us bite sometimes, he’s injured. So we’ve tried to keep certain guys in the lineup. Wagner is a physical player. Ritchie we brought in to be a little bit of this. Backes had some of this in him, now he gets concussed a little bit, now you’re talking about a person, at what level is he going to be able to go to for his personal health?

“So I think we’ve tried to balance it … but if it’s out there, people have the right to say it. I believe in this room, if anything happens the guys will be together. I think the incident the other night, to be perfectly honest with you, nobody knew what the hell happened at first. Maybe Brandon because he was near the player. And then we addressed it between periods. And like I said a couple guys tried to engage it. Now if we want to go back and talk about other teams and how they’re built. I think there are teams that are less physical than us. I think there’s a few that are more, so we’re trying to be the best of both worlds with our roster and we’ll see where it leads us.

“We have young guys down in Providence that we’ve drafted like a Frederic that have some of that bite. Is he ready to come up and do some of that? Maybe at his age. Maybe there’s another answer out there, that’s for Donny to answer. And I do believe that our guys will respond for one another. We’ll see how it all plays out.”

Cassidy then accepted some blame if there have been nights the Bruins haven’t played as physical as necessary or defending each other the way they should.

“Do we need a little bit more of it some nights? We could use someone maybe to pull it out of us a little bit, that’s what I think,” Cassidy said. “And that’s up to the coach sometimes to pull it out of the players. Sometimes it’s a player that’s a bit of a pest to stir the pot a little bit. So we’ll address that internally as well.”

Roster moves

Ritchie cleared waivers and was assigned to Providence of the AHL. Karson Kuhlman was recalled from Providence to take his place. … David Krejci is unlikely to play against the Penguins because of an upper-body injury, so Par Lindholm will go into the lineup. … With Rask out, Daniel Vladar was called up from Providence. … David Backes took a maintenance day Thursday, an odd occurrence considering he hasn’t played in a week.

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