This is second part of the Globe’s interview with Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. You can read the first part here.
Q. Looking back [on the playoffs], do you think there was something missing that you hadn’t identified before, and do you feel like the necessary effort was there?
A. I think it was. I think where we could have been better, in hindsight, is less about the scoring and being able to grind out a 2-1 game when you’re not scoring, get that type of win. I thought Game 4, even though they scored on us early, we got the game back, it’s 3-2, we’re in control, everyone’s playing well.
Then we had the non-call, and it’s in the net, and we weren’t able to get it done in overtime [Nikita Kucherov hauled down Charlie McAvoy on an attempted breakout, and the Lightning quickly set up a Steven Stamkos one-timer for the 3-3 goal. Dan Girardi scored the overtime winner].
That’s where I thought, “OK, if you’re not scoring, you’ve got to win 2-1.” We were comfortable with those games all year. They were better than us in those games at the end of the day. And our starts. I mean, you can’t get behind like we did at home, Games 3 and 4. It’s a bad recipe. You’re chasing the game. Even though we did a good job of it during the year, a lot of comebacks. When you play against the better teams that know how to win, it’s a tall ask.
That’s what I look back on. That time of year, we need to start better, better — pick your word for it, focus, execute, all of them, and not get behind and play with the lead.
Q. From the outside I’d say you’d have eight defensemen you can put in the lineup.
A. Yeah. That’s accurate.
Q. It might be a little weird if you have two clear-cut NHL guys in the press box every night. How do you manage that?
A. It would be uncomfortable having to constantly tell a player he’s not playing. But that’s part of the business, and you’re better off having depth. Eventually, if it becomes a problem, we’ll sit down and say we’ve got to fix this, how do we fix it? Someone’s got to go, or . . . you know. That’s for down the road.
For right now, I think we’re OK with it. I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that at some point, if everybody’s healthy, guys that have proven themselves in the NHL, there may come some friction with it. But right now I can’t worry about what November looks like. Especially considering how we’ve finished the last two years. We’ve lost key guys in the playoffs. We’ve learned from that, to a certain extent. We’ll see how it plays out.
Q. What do you think John Moore will be for this team?
A. That’s a good question, too. I’ve never coached him. I know he’s excited to be here and play. He likes our team, likes the way we play, likes the fact that we’re a Stanley Cup contender. I think he’ll be a good defensive matchup guy because of the way he skates. I think he’ll add some offense because of the way he skates. Where he fits in, who’s best suited to be his partner, I don’t know. Until we get him on the ice. Chemistry might be . . . Brandon Carlo might be with Kevan Miller. Maybe Charlie — know what I mean? You just don’t know.
I know the guys we do have. We have seven returning guys. I know that Gryz [Matt Grzelcyk] and Miller are very good together. Z [Zdeno Chara] can play with Charlie or Carlo. [Torey] Krug was with Carlo, played good with Kevan Miller, Adam [McQuaid] can go in, plays well with Gryz and Krug.
We kind of know what the seven have for chemistry. [Moore’s] a bit of a question mark there, as for who he’s going to fit in best with. How does he adjust to the way we want to play? We play a little different than New Jersey, where he’s been for three years. That’s a learning curve as well.
Q. On goalies, do you feel Tuukka Rask will benefit from having Jaroslav Halak around?
A. We’re going to benefit as a team. Jaro has been a proven No. 1 in this league. Has a playoff résumé. I think he’ll push Tuukka. I think he’s more than capable of being a solid backup for us. Having said that, I thought Doby [Anton Khudobin] had a really good year for us last year, gave us what we needed. He was a reason why we ended up where we did. We’re expecting that out of Jaro.
We’ll see where it goes. I’m very comfortable with our goaltending situation. I think from Game 1 to 82 we should be one of the strongest goaltending teams in the league, with their résumés.
Q. With a player of Zdeno Chara’s age (41), from the outside, do you wonder when the steep decline is going to come?
A. I golfed with four guys [Tuesday] and they all asked me that.
Q. How did you respond?
A. I respond that Z, with his year last year and the year before when I was here, I think he’s plenty capable. Lots left in the tank. Hardest-working guy off the ice. I’m not worried about conditioning. I guess as you get older, the other thing is, will your skill level, your ability to play drop off, no matter how good of shape you’re in? I don’t see that drop-off.
Q. He can still play in this league with his size, his reach . . .
A. He can defend against anybody. Great penalty killer. We didn’t use him as much on the power play, but I have no doubt, his shot, he can still be a complementary player on the power play. We’ve tried to incorporate other players and it’s worked out for our power play, for the most part. It allows him to play maybe fewer minutes elsewhere. I think he could still do that if we asked him to.
Q. So, China trip: Do you speak any Mandarin?
A. No. My kids went to school in Providence, the Montessori school, they took Mandarin. I can speak French. I lived in Italy for three years, in the winter playing hockey, so I can speak some Italian. Mandarin is a negative. Big negative for me.
Q. Not even a little bit?
A. No, my kids learned it. They’d come home and sing a few songs. I figured, teaching this old dog a new trick is gone. I think languages are for the young. They’re easier to pick up. Now if I moved there, I’d absolutely try to learn. Spending 10 days there, I’ll pick up the basics.
Q. What are you looking forward to most seeing in China?
A. Personally, I like to see the world. I think we’re going to Hong Kong, see the Great Wall. It’ll be great to see another culture. On the hockey side of it, we’re bringing a lot of our group. So you‘re looking at the guys on the bubble as much as anything. I know Marchy [Brad Marchand] is going to be fine. So it’s, John Moore, I haven’t seen play hockey with our uniform on. It’ll be interesting to see him. [Urho] Vaakanainen, the three centermen we talked about, after the rookie camp, how close are they? What kind of steps have some of these young guys made? Have they trained appropriately, or are they going to take a step back?
That’s the other thing you always worry about a little bit. I try not to go down that road, but it’s in the back of your mind. It doesn’t automatically mean you’re going to be better since you had a good first year. You’ve got to put the work in.