The defensive system the Bruins used to reduce the Pittsburgh Penguins to two goals in four games isn’t complicated, according to Boston head coach Claude Julien.
What it takes to be successful is a complete team effort.
“I think it’s pretty obvious that we have layers,” said Julien. “Our guys are committed to come back and just making sure that there’s layer after layer that make it hard for them to get to our net.”
Of course, it helps that the Bruins have the following key players in their “layers”:
—- Patrice Bergeron, one of the best defensive forwards in the game.
—- Zdeno Chara, one of the best shutdown defensemen in the game.
—- Tuukka Rask, entering the Stanley Cup finals with a .943 save percentage in the playoffs.
And that’s the challenge that awaits the Chicago Blackhawks — a team, it should be noted, that just defeated a pretty good defensive side in the Los Angeles Kings.
“We’ve seen some of [Boston’s] games, especially the last series there,” Chicago d-man Duncan Keith said. “Sweeping Pittsburgh, I think, says it all right there with the amount of firepower Pittsburgh had, what they were able to do to a team like that.”
Prior to the Western Conference finals, ‘Hawks forward Marian Hossa said the key to winning would be to use their plethora of speed and skill.
“They play a physical game,” said Hossa. “We play a quick game, and we know how we can beat them. We just have to use our quickness.”
The same should hold true versus Boston.
Arguably Chicago’s quickest and most creative player, forward Patrick Kane, struggled at times versus Los Angeles, but he broke out in a big way during Saturday’s clinching victory, potting a hat trick that included the overtime winner.
“Yeah, he stepped up,” said ‘Hawks coach Joel Quenneville. “He took on the responsibility of leading the team. Proven he’s a top player in the game, he made special plays over the two games. [It’s] nice to see him finish it off in a real positive way for us.”
Quenneville will have his work cut out, too. Can he draw up a better game plan than Dan Bylsma did for the Penguins?
Perhaps Quenneville can glean something from watching tape of Boston’s first-round series versus Toronto in which the Maple Leafs used their speed to score 18 goals in seven games.
Also worth mentioning: five of Toronto’s 18 goals came on the power play, an area of Chicago’s game that will almost certainly need to improve if the Blackhawks are to hoist the Cup.
Against the Kings, the ‘Hawks scored just once on 14 man-advantage tries and still managed to advance; however, that was against a banged-up group that had struggled to score all postseason.
The Bruins, for all everyone is talking about their defense, have averaged an impressive 3.12 goals per game in the playoffs.