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Here’s what Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy believes went wrong against the Hurricanes

The Bruins have made the playoffs six straight seasons under coach Bruce Cassidy.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

Every offseason brings unknowns, and the Bruins will have their share of situations to monitor in the coming weeks — none more significant than the future of team captain Patrice Bergeron.

But three days after being eliminated in the first round by the Carolina Hurricanes in a series that went seven games, coach Bruce Cassidy could begin to unpack the season with some perspective.

A team with new faces, young and old, was able to turn a shaky start into a solid showing. Cassidy believed the Bruins were legitimate Stanley Cup contenders.

“I thought we were this year,” he said Tuesday. “We had a start that was inconsistent, not to our standards. There’s different reasons for that.


“I give the players a lot of credit for finding their way in the second half. I think we had to move some pieces around and I was proud of the way the guys [responded]. We were on top of our game. Beating good hockey clubs down the stretch, winning our share of games against good clubs that maybe we weren’t able to early in the year.”

The Bruins shake hands with the Hurricanes following Game 7 in Carolina.Jared C. Tilton/Getty

The Bruins have made the playoffs six straight seasons, and this was only the second time they failed to make it out of the first round.

“To say that we’re not a contender, yeah, if you don’t get out of the first round, that’s not what we want,” Cassidy said. “We want to win a Stanley Cup. That’s what we’re here for. As the series went on, I think our team started believing that this is a team we can beat. We just didn’t get it done in Game 7.”

With a few days since the end of the series, Cassidy could more easily identify the why. There was no overlooking that the Bruins scored just six goals in the four road games.


“The takeaway at the end of the day was timely finishing for us [in Carolina],” Cassidy said. “We didn’t generate as much offense up there. We were able to generate a little more at home.

“Some of that is we got a lead, so they opened up a little bit. Some of that is finishing, and that’s hard to just pinpoint one and say, ‘Well, you should have scored here.’ We have to find a way to generate offense more consistently, especially against those teams.”

Cassidy made it clear the offense wasn’t ineffective for the entire series. The Hurricanes had the same issue when they traveled to TD Garden. Carolina allowed the fewest goals in the league during the regular season. The Bruins were fourth.

“So it was going to be not a lot of room out there no matter what, both ways,” Cassidy said. “So we knew that. End of the day, we didn’t do quite a good enough job finishing the chances we did get or creating a few more along the way.”

The lack of road success in the playoffs was unusual for the Bruins. The last time they failed to win a road game in the postseason was in 2003 against the Devils. But the road scoring was a concern the Bruins identified last season when they were eliminated by the Islanders in six games in the second round and were outscored, 11-5, on the road.

“We looked at it last year after the Islanders,” Cassidy said. “We need to generate more cycle, playoff-style offense, and build it into the year.”


The decision to break up the combination of David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand, and Patrice Bergeron led to a more balanced offense for Boston.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

One of the pivotal points of the season was when Cassidy broke up the top line of Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak, and Patrice Bergeron. While those three still went 1-2-3 in team scoring, the Bruins were able to get more offensive contributions throughout the roster from players such as Taylor Hall (61 points), Charlie McAvoy (56), Erik Haula (44), Charlie Coyle (44), and Jake DeBrusk (42).

But Cassidy stressed that the team needed to be intentional about getting to the net to create goal-scoring opportunities because the faucet for goals off the rush is often cut off in the postseason. Against the Hurricanes, they saw that play out.

“All of a sudden, you’re in the middle of the year, guys are scoring on the rush, right?” Cassidy said. “You’re winning. So what are you going to say? We still want that, but understand that if it’s not there, how about less forcing of plays against teams when it’s not there and play behind them?

“And players have ways they want to play. It’s not a matter of, ‘OK, Coach told me I better ... ’ It’s repetition. It’s habit. Having success from that.”

During the regular season, the third line of Trent Frederic, Coyle, and Craig Smith found its niche going to the net for goals. But in the playoffs, Coyle’s 2-4—6 line was the only production.

“I thought we had turned the corner in the second half with some of that,” Cassidy said. “And the test always comes in the playoffs. We just happened to run up against a team that was rock-solid defensively.”


The Bruins’ playoff run ended sooner than they wanted, but they didn’t come away feeling as far away as a first-round exit might make it seem.

“We were that far off from it?” Cassidy asked. “Is it all on us? Or do we give the appropriate amount of credit to the team that we lost to? That was a very good hockey team that knows how to shut teams down. I think it’s a little bit of both.”

Julian Benbow can be reached at julian.benbow@globe.com.