'Claude hates the kids,' but young Bruins are playing less under Cassidy

'Claude hates the kids,' but young Bruins are playing less under Cassidy

You know the old adage about how Bruce Cassidy hates the kids? No? Oh, that’s probably because he doesn’t, but in Boston it’s commonplace to say the hockey coach hates the kids. 

My Best Friend Mike did it all the time with Claude Julien and a lot of people -- even smart ones -- echoed him. It was hyperbole, but it grew into a serious belief despite, you know, *deep breath* Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Milan Lucic, Tuukka Rask, Torey Krug, Dougie Hamilton and David Pastrnak all flourishing under him, with Tyler Seguin and Phil Kessel also having monster seasons in Boston. 

Anyway, I stumbled across this little tidbit after reading an interesting tweet from Bruins Stats about Frank Vatrano’s usage: Most of the Bruins’ young guys have gotten less ice time under Bruce Cassidy per game than they did under Julien. That list consists of Vatrano, Ryan Spooner, Brandon Carlo and Colin Miller. David Pastrnak, who shouldn’t really count given that he’s one of the team’s best players, has played eight more seconds a night under Cassidy. 

Again, for the love of god, this is not suggesting that Cassidy doesn’t like young players. It does, however, dispel the foolish idea that Julien had a particularly strong bias against young guys. 

Here’s a breakdown of time on ice: 

Frank Vatrano: 14:40 per night under Julien; 13:00 under Cassidy 

Ryan Spooner: 14:22 per night under Julien; 14:10 under Cassidy

Brandon Carlo: 21:20 per night under Julien; 20:08 under Cassidy

Colin Miller: 16:27 per night under Julien; 14:40 under Cassidy 

Should these guys be playing more? Should they be playing less? Don’t care. The "Claude hates kids" argument is dead. 

Ps. There's like a 70 percent chance this turns into a "Bruce hates the kids!" segment on Felger and Mazz.

Who stays and goes if Bruins miss playoffs again?

Who stays and goes if Bruins miss playoffs again?

The last two years have seen Felger and Mazz demand the Bruins fire people, so kudos to them for asking the same question now: Who stays and who goes if the Bruins miss the playoffs? 

It was a pretty interesting conversation, even if a lot of it didn’t make sense. At any rate, it’s worth asking what will come of the likes of Don Sweeney, Cam Neely and Bruce Cassidy if this all goes to hell and the Bruins fall out of the playoffs for a third straight year. 

The million-dollar question would surround Neely, whom the Jacobs obviously love. If he's moved out of his role as president -- either by being fired or being reassigned -- it would mean all bets are off for the other two. So let’s assume he stays for the sake of determining the other guys’ fates. 

If I were calling the shots, both Sweeney and Cassidy would be safe, barring especially crazy circumstances. 

Start with Sweeney. This isn’t because he’s a great GM right now -- he isn’t -- but because he should have the benefit of the doubt through next season. That’s when we’ll see more of his draft picks, such as Charlie McAvoy and Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, at the NHL level. If those guys impress at or near the level of fellow Sweeney pick Brandon Carlo, Sweeney’s plan can be considered the work in progress that many suspect it to be. Plus, that Brad Marchand contract looks sweeter by the day. 

The question ownership would need to ask itself is what Sweeney has done to harm the team and how that projects going forward. There are candidates there. He didn’t ace the Dougie Hamilton trade. He gave an aging David Backes what looks to be a bad contract. He gave Matt Beleskey too much money, even if it really isn’t a ton per year. He traded Reilly Smith for Jimmy Hayes. He bought out Dennis Seidenberg a year too early, which will cost the B’s longer than necessary. 

The 2015 deadline deals I don’t put all the way on Sweeney because I have a hard time believing that was completely him insisting on making the playoffs. If he had the eye to the future that he’s claimed is there, he would have known that draft capital was better off being kept. 

So for all Sweeney’s shortcomings, Charlie Jacobs would need to diagnose which ones could rear their heads in a costly way before dumping the guy two years in. I’d leave him be for now. There’s nothing worse than an ownership group that doesn’t let its hires implement their plans.  

The short answer on Cassidy is that he's worth keeping because he's a good coach who to this point has shown he can get results. Few would have batted an eye if they removed the interim tag last week.

But like Claude Julien before him, Cassidy is a good coach with a not-great roster. This was a team that should have been expected to maybe make the playoffs and maybe miss them. If you're surprised that they're a fringe team, I don't know what to tell you. 

The Bruins' goals against per game under Cassidy are nearly equal to what they were under Julien, but that’s because they’re not a very good defensive team. Much like with Julien, I'm of the mind to give him a better team and see what he does with it. Crazy stuff, I know. 

Despite having lost three straight, the Bruins are 12-6-0 under Cassidy with nine games left. They’re on pace for 92 points, which projects them to get the second Wild Card spot by two points over the Islanders. 

Say the Bruins go .500 (4-4-1) the rest of the way. That would make them them 16-10-1 under Cassidy and give them 91 points, which would still project to get them into the playoffs. They still, to use a horrible cliche, control their own destiny. 

So the collapse that many might fear after dropping divisional games in consecutive days still might not even happen. It is interesting, however, to see how quickly the crowd that started engraving names on the Stanley Cup after the coaching change last month is now back to wondering who to fire. 

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