Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Bruins notes: Cassidy’s fortuitous center switches can’t prevent loss to Maple Leafs

Matt Kalman
November 26, 2018 - 10:29 pm

Another defenseman was injured, Bruce Cassidy made another fortuitous in-game lineup change and the Bruins were one Toronto power-play goal from extending their point streak to six games Monday.

Instead the Bruins fell in Toronto 4-2 and dropped to 3-1-2 in their past six, despite outplaying the Maple Leafs for long stretches.

Let us start with the line change. All the kind words in the world out of Cassidy’s mouth couldn’t hide the fact that he finally got tired of watching his best two wings Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak get held back by the lackluster play of rookie center Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson. Especially in Toronto, where the Maple Leafs were able to get their top defense pair of Morgan Rielly and Ron Hainsey on the ice against that line, the Bruins needed a change after that line was out-attempted by several shots in five minutes together in the first period.

In stepped Colby Cave, who physically is nearly a doppelganger for former Bruins center Riley Nash. Like Nash last season Cave was able to play assertively but not get in Pastrnak and Marchand’s way. The Marchand-Cave-Pastrnak line turned the possession tables in the Bruins’ favor during the eight minutes or so they were together 5-on-5 over the second and third periods, and Pastrnak’s second goal of the game tied the score 2-2 at even strength.

The line jumble also allowed Joakim Nordstrom to slide in between David Backes and Chris Wagner, and that line owned its six minutes of 5-on-5 play over the final 40 minutes of action.

The night started with a lineup change that saw Anders Bjork get in and Sean Kuraly get scratched for the first time this season. One would expect those two to switch again because Bjork was on the ice for two goals against, was in the penalty box for the game-winning goal and attempted one shot (it was blocked).

*Kevan Miller was hit in the throat with a John Tavares shot in the first period and was taken to a local hospital where he’ll stay overnight.

Once again down to five defensemen the Bruins leaned on Torey Krug for 24:57 of ice time and Connor Clifton (yes, Connor Clifton) for 24:36 (10:02 in the third period). And the Bruins somehow still were within one goal of the fourth-highest scoring team in the NHL until Zach Hyman scored into an empty net with 1:35 to play.

Clifton and Jeremy Lauzon (who only played 13:43) have been excellent rookie fill-ins during the Bruins injury epidemic on the back end, but the left-handed trio of Krug, John Moore and Matt Grzelcyk has to get a ton of credit for the way they’ve been able to play sound defensively without giving up much offense. Krug has especially been a force at both ends of the ice the past several games.

It has also helped that most nights now the Bruins have three forward lines clicking and making sure a lot of time is spent at the opponents’ end of the rink.

*Bjork got caught defending with his stick and was in the box when Josh Leivo scored a power-play goal with 1:22 left in the second period, the game-winning goal. Considering one of the Maple Leafs’ other goals went off Moore’s back and past Jaroslav Halak, this was as close to a point-earning performance as a team could get without actually getting at least one point.

Related: Pastrnak revisits own contract with good friend Nylander waiting for his