Right wing Noel Acciari adequately performed the job he was assigned while NHL referee Kelly Sutherland did not, according to Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy.
That was the residual fallout that Cassidy dealt with following the game altering non-call in the third period of the St. Louis Blues 2-1 victory in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final on Thursday night at the TD Garden.
The Blues took a 3-2 series lead and will attempt to secure the first Stanley Cup title in team history on Sunday night at the Enterprise Center.
Acciari was battling for puck possession along the sidewall in the Bruins zone when he was upended from behind by Blues center Tyler Bozak in Sutherland’s vicinity.
While Acciari was recovering on the ice — expecting a call — the puck continued to cycle in the Boston end. Right wing David Perron put the Blues up 2-0 at 10:30 on a bad angle shot that broke between Tuukka Rask’s pads for his sixth of the playoffs.
Cassidy described Acciari as “despondent” in the locker room after the game because, through no dereliction of duty, he failed to clear the puck from the Bruins end.
“I have coached Noel Acciari for a long time,” said Cassidy on Friday afternoon at Warrior Ice Arena in Brighton. “He is hard on the puck, that his job to win pucks, he’s a penalty killer and he’s shot blocker.
“Coaches generally don’t address the group after a loss but they will time to time. You watch the room and you see a guy and you can tell he’s despondent that he caused the team the game.”
Away from the X’s and O’s of game planning, coaches are required to be motivators and arm chair psychiatrists, disciplines that Cassidy used to counsel Acciari.
“Here’s a guy that I feel for,” said Cassidy. “I’ve grown tight with this group and they lay it on the line so I feel bad for him.
“There’s no call so he feels he didn’t win his puck battle and that’s a tough one so I have to pick that player up moving forward. That’s a little bit of the emotion that comes into it after the game.
“The emotion now is we have to put it behind us and move on.”
The Bruins power play remains statistically potent but failed to produce in the last two games against the Blues. The Bruins were 0-for-3 on the power play in Game 5 due to disjointed entries and soft coverage at the points.
Defenseman Torey Krug (5:18), center Patrice Bergeron (4:02) and wingers Brad Marchand (4:52), David Pastrnak (3:46) and Marcus Johansson (3:41) consumed the bulk or the power play minutes without producing a goal.
The Bruins are 23-of-69 in the playoffs for a 33.3% success rate, but Cassidy feels in must perform better to avoid elimination.
“I thought last night they (Blues) did a better job,” said Cassidy. “We were looking for a certain side to get in and they have three across so if you can’t get through the middle.
“I thought they did a good job influencing us to one side and we have to be quicker to identify that.”
The 7-11 solution
Cassidy did not upgrade injured defenseman Matt Grzelcyk’s (concussion) status for Game 6. Cassidy had to alter the Bruins structure to compensate for the loss of Grzelcyk and the uncertainty of Zdeno Chara’s (jaw) ability to defend the zone in Game 5 by using 11 forwards and seven defensemen. The unbalanced structure caused some unusual mixing and matchings along at the front end, something Cassidy would like to avoid in Game 6.
“I think everyone is comfortable playing with each other and ultimately we all have the same game plan and the same system,” said right wing Joakim Nordstrom.
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