Ha might have every reason to, but Bruce Cassidy hasn’t devoted much of his energy searching for excuses during the 2018-19 campaign.
Not when a preseason trip to China hewed the club’s roster in two — forcing a majority of the B’s regulars to endure a pair of 16-hour flights and two preseason games abroad just a few weeks before the regular season got underway.
Not when injuries sapped plenty of punch out of Boston’s lineup — with stalwarts in Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara, Kevan Miller, and Charlie McAvoy missing a combined 84 games due to a myriad of ailments.
Not when various vacancies in the lineup, both due to injury and inconsistent play, have forced Cassidy to shuffle around his roster on a daily basis — with the club rolling out 39 different line combinations that have seen at least 10 minutes of 5v5 ice time together.
And — upon a quick spot check — can you really blame for B’s bench boss?
For all that has seemingly gone wrong for the B’s this season — the injuries, the unfilled spots on the roster, the regression of some younger skaters — Boston has continued to chug along in what has been a cutthroat Atlantic Division.
Just two days removed from the pomp and circumstance of the 2019 Winter Classic, the writing was on the wall for Boston to labor against the Flames on Thursday night — an opponent riding an 11-4-2 stretch to the top of the Western Conference, points wise.
It wasn’t pretty, but Boston did enough to clinch its third consecutive win on Thursday with a 6-4 result — with 11 different skaters registering at least a point in the victory.
While Boston’s potent top-line trio of Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak have combined for six goals and 12 points over the team’s recent three-game winning streak, it’s been other contributions that have led to points in the standings — with Sean Kuraly providing both the OT winner against Buffalo on Saturday and the go-ahead tally against Chicago Tuesday in South Bend.
It hasn’t been a conventional season by any means for the Bruins, but at the exact midway point of the 2018-19 season, Boston has managed to remain afloat — generating a 100-point pace and sitting in third place in the Atlantic.
That doesn’t come as much of a surprise to Cassidy. Given the amount of veteran talent still revving the engine on this roster — a 100-point pace is the expectation, not a pleasant surprise.