The Boston Bruins want to be a hard-working, hard-to-play-against team that doesn’t give up easy goals, which is what the team has been for well over a decade.

But they are not that team right now, at least not on a night-to-night basis. Just how good this 5-4 team can be is still a wide open question. They lost their No. 2 centerman, David Krejci, and their all-time winningest goalie Tuukka Rask (still rehabbing following hip surgery), and some of the new players brought in to fill various lineup voids have yet to find their game.

But in Coach Bruce Cassidy’s eyes, it is hard to see this team’s potential until it gives maximum effort. And he hasn’t seen that yet.

The things that stuck out to Cassidy from the Toronto game in particular was poor recognition on goal-line breakouts, forwards not coming back to help enough, and not enough 50-50 puck battle wins.

The macro view is that they’re 1-4 on the road and they haven’t been good enough. Their one road win came in Buffalo, where the Bruins outclassed the Sabres, but did not necessarily outplay them.

“The commonality of that (Toronto) game is we’ve gone into Philly, Florida, Carolina and now Toronto against good hockey clubs and they’ve made the extra play that we haven’t,” said Cassidy after Monday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena. “We were tied going into the third in Philly. Carolina’s a close game but they get a couple that going in off us. Even Florida, I think it was 1-1 or 2-1 late. … So they’re making the plays and we’re not. What does that mean? Are they better than us or are we just not there yet for 60 minutes?


“Until we play them a little more often, that’s hard to say one way or another. But I do know that what was addressed this morning was we’ve got to get to the 60 minutes and then find out if we’re better than them or not. Right now, that’s our focus. And we’ve had some of those games, it just hasn’t been in those road games against those types of opponents.”

Cassidy is contemplating a slight lineup change. He’d been reluctant to try Jack Studnicka at right wing this season, but he practiced there on a third line with center Erik Haula and left wing Jake DeBrusk on Monday. That dropped Curtis Lazar to the fourth line right wing with center Tomas Nosek and left wing Trent Frederic, which would bounce Karson Kuhlman out.

Whether we see that DeBrusk-Haula-Studnicka combo remains to be seen, however, with Cassidy saying only he was thinking about it.

“That line, offensively, had some looks, hasn’t finished so maybe a different flavor there. And we put Lazar back where he started,” said Cassidy. “I think Kuhlie’s done a nice job with what we’ve asked on that line, but sometimes a different kind of player may help get the line going.”

Cassidy sat Haula briefly in the second period Saturday. Though the coach didn’t mention the play, the brief benching came after Haula wasn’t there to collect DeBrusk’s pass on a two-on-one. Cassidy said there were a couple of motivations. He put David Pastrnak on that line after some penalty kills knocked him out of the mix a bit and he wanted to get the struggling winger some more ice time. But he also wanted to send a message.

“I didn’t think he had his legs the other night, as much as he’s had,” said Cassidy, who had a brief postpractice chat with the centerman. “We’re trying to get (Pastrnak) back up to speed as much as we can. It came at the expense of Haula for a shift or two and then we got back to (the regular lines). Sometimes it’s a subtle message: ‘Hey, get your legs going, get into the game here.’ I think he’s been a little snake-bit to be honest with you. He’s had some ups and downs, but a couple go in and we’re probably not talking about this. He’d be a little more confident. So I just want to make sure he wasn’t affected by hitting posts or being close. He still has to play good solid hockey for us.”

Studnicka was tried on the wing last season, but the experiment did not go well for the natural center. With some added heft on his bones, he should be able to battle against pinching defensemen better this year.

“It was a learning curve last year having to do it, but I’ve worked with the assistant coaches a lot in practice and in certain situations — taking pucks off the wall — I’m more equipped,” said Studnicka. “I’m a lot stronger this year, so those board battles should hopefully go in my favor.”

NOTES: Brad Marchand and Charlie McAvoy collided awkwardly during power-play practice, the end result being McAvoy doubled over in pain and taking a breather on the bench. That was the last time the first unit went through their paces, but McAvoy appeared to be fine, returning to the ice for the team stretch. … Nick Folingo and Anton Blidh, both out with upper body injuries, returned to practice as full participants. Neither appears ready to play Tuesday. Foligno, who has been out since the second game of the season, could draw back in Thursday against Edmonton. … Jeremy Swayman will get the nod against Ottawa on Tuesday at the Garden, provided the Senators can ice a team. The Sens canceled Monday’s practice because of a possible COVID outbreak. Forward Auston Watson, defenseman Nick Holden and associate coach Jack Capuano were placed in COVID protocol over the weekend and forwards Connor Brown and Dylan Gambrell were added on Monday. Forwards Egor Sokolov and Scott Sabourin and defenseman Erik Brannstrom were recalled from Belleville.

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