Tuukka Rask, Zdeno Chara and the rest of the Boston Bruins have held the high-powered Red Wings offense to just two goals in three games. Photo by Joe Makarski, Bruins Daily
The Boston Bruins are known for their rugged and physical play all around.
Head coach Claude Julien stated before Tuesday's Game 3, "We are big. We are physical. I don't think we should apologize for it. The Bruins fans love us for that."
But, it goes beyond that. The defensive play of the Black and Gold through the team's first three games has been stifling. The team has let in two goals through 180 minutes of play-one being Pavel Datsyuk's Top 10 appearance on Sports Center while the other was a deflection off a shoulder.
The team acquired depth at the trade deadline due to the injuries of Dennis Seidenberg and Adam McQuaid. Never did anyone think they would be appearing in the opening round of the playoffs.
Well, with Matt Bartkowski sick with the flu for the first two games and Kevan Miller nursing an injury as well as the flu, Andrej Meszaros and Corey Potter filled that void. They were very serviceable, sticking to the Bruins system while making the necessary plays and minimizing their miscues. The blue liners have stuck together, leaving little room to operate while the forwards are doing a tremendous job of back-checking. There is no other forward in the league that does it better than second-line center Patrice Bergeron who should take home his second Selke Award this season.
Make no mistake about it, their success so far in this series is because of their two leaders on the back end-Zdeno Chara and Tuukka Rask. Chara is a presence on the ice and with youngsters Dougie Hamilton, Torey Krug, Bartkowski, Miller and Boychuk following in the steps of "Big Z", it is a tough group to over power.
The Bruins have been superb on the penalty kill as well as not allowing a single power-play goal to a very skilled offensive club. That has to do with getting in the passing lanes and not being afraid to throw your body around as we saw Gregory Campbell do last season versus the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Rask discussed why the team has been so successful on the penalty kill after Game 2 where the team killed off four Red Wings' power plays..
"I don't know, everything, I guess," Rask said. "They haven't scored yet, I don't think. We have good sticks, we're taking care of the the middle and trying not to give them those seam passes and then if they get shots we're trying to bounce on the loose pucks and win puck battles. I think everything has been pretty strong-the forecheck and stuff like that. We take a lot of pride in our penalty kill and so far it's been working. It's a huge thing throughout the season and especially in the playoffs, you need to have good special teams in order to move forward."
Chara has logged a lot of minutes so far 5-on-5, matching up against Datsyuk or leading the penalty kill. He's a Norris Trophy candidate for a reason and he will be put in key spots like that throughout the B's run in the playoffs. He's up for the challenge.
"You know what, I always say whatever coaching style (Claude Julien) decides to play me, use me, I'm fine with that," said the Bruins captain. "It's all about the wins and team games. So, I'm ready whenever they ask me to and that's the bottom line."
The defense has been great all season long, but even more so now, the Black and Gold have turned it up another notch keeping the scoring chances for the Red Wings to a minimum.
Detroit coach Mike Babcock even went on to say after his team's Game 3 loss, "I thought we looked like kids tonight." That's the goal of the B's: to be the men amongst the boys and through the last two games at least, that has been the case.
Julien's system is as effective as it gets and whoever is plugged into the lineup is following suit while keeping the puck away from Rask.
See what Tuukka, Dougie Hamilton, Brad Marchand and Jordan Caron had to say about the Bruins' 3-0 win in Game 3 Tuesday night.