At the beginning of February, the Bruins were amidst a downward spiral, having lost six of their previous nine games, that could eventually see them miss the playoffs for a third straight year. During this streak, the Bruins were embarrassed 4-0 on home ice to the last-place New York Islanders and blew a 3-0 lead against the lowly Detroit Red Wings to eventually lose 6-5 in a shootout. The team had some obvious lack of depth on the wing, defense, and backup goaltender positions, but they weren’t winning the games that they should have. The Bruins were clinging onto the third and final divisional playoff position but having already played a handful more games than the teams closing on them in the standings, the Bruins only had a 35% chance of qualifying for the playoffs.
On February 7, the Bruins finally made the move that many were calling for the team to make since the end of last season. Head coach Claude Julien was fired and assistant coach Bruce Cassidy was promoted to Julien’s old position on an interim basis. Cassidy inherited the Bruins’ biggest issue of converting shots in goals. At the time of the firing, the Bruins had a 55.46% CF%, 53.22% SCF%, and a 55.83% xGF% but only a GF% of 45.22% (all metrics presented in this article are 5v5 and adjusted for score, zone & venue unless specifically noted). Despite consistently outshooting and outchancing their opponents, the Bruins were struggling because of their league-worst 5.97% SH% at even strength (non-adjusted). The result of this was scoring a league-worst 24 goals under their expected goal for total on the season (87.55 GF compared to 111.78 xGF).
In order to fix the Bruins’ largest problem, Cassidy had to find a way to way to generate higher quality chances. As we have just crossed the midway point of Cassidy getting promoted and the conclusion of the NHL regular season, now is a perfect time to check in on how he has been able to alter the Bruins system in order to spark a playoff rally.