2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs

In search of an ‘unbiased opinion,’ Bruce Cassidy & staff embrace analytics to give Bruins an inside edge

(Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

In the minutes following a win or loss, some NHL head coaches aren’t exactly privy to sharing their thoughts about the various ebbs and flows of a contest. Some are simply much more comfortable tossing out a curt retort than expand on a facet of the game, while others are simply hamstrung from an extensive response by the limitations that come from seeing a matchup play out in front of them — in real time — from the bench.

Bruce Cassidy is one of the more candid and accessible head coaches in the league, often willing to talk at length about matters from lineup changes and in-game adjustments — all the way to things as off-topic as the TD Garden playlist. 

But what sets Cassidy apart from most, especially during this Stanley Cup run, is his willingness to not let the simple “eye test” be the only source of his postgame comments while speaking with the media.

During the Eastern Conference Final alone:

  • On May 9, when asked of the D pairing of Torey Krug and Brandon Carlo vs. Sebastian Aho: “I thought we were pretty good. The analytics will dictate it.  I thought we might have had a slight edge, in general.”
  • On May 16, when asked of Boston’s defensive efforts en route to a series win: “I don’t recall a lot of slot chances – I don’t know if the analytics would back that up. I assume that they would. Those are the most dangerous ones.”

The game of hockey continues to morph and evolve at a frantic pace. Ten years ago, rolling out a D corps with three skaters under 6-feet would largely be an act of folly. And yet, here are the Bruins are — with Torey Krug, Matt Grzelcyk and Connor Clifton all playing a key role in Boston’s playoff run.

And now more than ever, coaching staffs are relying more and more on raw data and cold, hard analytics to help formulate decisions made to positively impact the product on the ice.

Count Cassidy among the new breed of bench boss.