Bruins notify NHL about Maple Leafs’ ‘skate bump’ tactics
Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy was not thinking “slew-foot” when Joakim Nordstrom appeared to have his skates taken out by Toronto’s Travis Dermott in the first period of Game 6 Sunday. But Cassidy said he is alerting officiating supervisors about the Maple Leafs’ tactics as the teams prepare for Game 7 Tuesday night at TD Garden.
“I just find their skates bump the back of ours a lot, whether that’s just dumb luck or how they battle for pucks,” Cassidy said after practice at Warrior Ice Arena Monday. “We’ve brought it up with the supervisor, if you see a few of them. There’s a couple things we find Toronto does that we’ve brought up, that’s why they’re [the supervisors] here, that’s what they ask for — anything you see.
“I’m sure Toronto brings things up with us. We’ll see where it goes. I noticed there was one on the faceoff, [Sean] Kuraly went down from behind. There’s been a few of them every game. It started with the [Jake] DeBrusk battle [in Game 2] but I don’t know if I’d call it a slew-foot.
“I’d just call it feet contacting feet, whether it’s by accident or by design I don’t know. I don’t want to speculate.”
Nordstrom was penalized for high sticking while going down in a clash with Dermott.
“There you go,” Cassidy said. “They go into the corner and he all of a sudden is flying backwards and his stick gets up. So it will be pointed out.
“It’s still a high stick if it catches a guy in the face, unfortunately. But I think the original contact caused the high stick. Nordy’s stick was on the ice battling for it.
“Usually, a high stick comes up in the act of . . . this one came up in the act of falling backwards because his foot got kicked out. So I would hope they would notice the contact there.”
The Bruins’ 4-2 win Sunday marked the fourth time the visiting team has been victorious in the series.
“We’ve played really well at home this year,” Cassidy said. “If you get caught up in the matchups, maybe that’s something. When you’re on the road, you just put it out there and they have to react to it. Sometimes it’s almost easier, as far as a coach, to coach on the road, to trust your players to get the job done. That could have something to do with it.
“I don’t think we’re nervous in front of our home crowd. We get great juice from them. I know Game 2 [a 4-1 win] we played really well here. They’ll be behind us.
“As for Toronto up there in front of their home crowd, why they didn’t play well, I don’t know. Two teams, not much to pick from, regardless where we play.”
Though home ice has proven to be a disadvantage so far in the series, the Bruins are hoping to capitalize on the situation.
“Do or die, go out there and leave it all out there,” Patrice Bergeron said. “Obviously, it’s a battle royale out there, more so in Game 7. It’s whatever it takes. I guess it’s about poise and make sure you use that stress and nervousness the right way and feed off it and use the energy that way and make sure you still play the right way even though there is lots on the line.
“It’s great, it’s why you play hockey. As an athlete, I think you have to feed off that. We all enjoy it. I know the place is going to be electric with the fans and everything and you’ve got to use that and play the right way and not overthink stuff. Go out there and play the way we’ve been playing, especially in Game 6, and go out there and use your instincts.”
Cassidy went Pavlovian talking about preparation.
“Honestly, we prepare pretty similarly every game,” Cassidy said. “I think hockey players — don’t take this wrong — they’re a bit like dogs. They love routines, especially on game day. So you try to stay as close to your routine as possible and hope — you don’t hope, you expect — they’re going to go out and play their best and get a break here or there and create your own breaks when you need to, and off you go.”
Defenseman Torey Krug was willing to bite on Cassidy’s canine comparison.
“He’s spot-on,” Krug said. “The preparation, make sure you’re not overthinking it. You want to prepare like every other game. That way you’re comfortable. When you see teammates going through the same routines they do over and over again throughout the season and the playoffs, it makes you feel calmer.
“You work all year to get home ice, and now we’re excited for the chance in front of our home fans to do it once again. So whatever it takes. It’s do or die, and we had that mentality last game, for sure.
“But it’s all about playing good, sound hockey. You try and treat it like another game, so you play to your capabilities and your potential.
“But there is something special about Game 7. That’s why fans love watching it and players love playing in it. Every little play is magnified in a Game 7. It’s about trying to do your best and putting your best foot forward, and if our best foot is better than theirs, then we’re happy at the end of it.”