Bruins Try to Find Their Lost Defense
Boston — From Eddie Shore to Bobby Orr to Raymond Bourque, the Boston Bruins have played a certain way — and been pretty successful at it.
The bruising and often belligerent style of the Original Six franchise was best embodied by the “Big Bad Bruins” of the 1960s and ’70s, and it helped establish the way Boston teams are still expected to play. So when the Bruins lost 6-5 — 11 goals! — to Chicago in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals on Wednesday night, purists were aghast.
“I don’t think any coach likes the back-and-forth, exchanging chances,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said yesterday, a day after he said it just wasn’t “a Bruins type of game.”
“Although it’s exciting for the fans, you’re looking for some zone time. ... People construed ‘Bruins hockey’ as being rough-and-tumble and not much else. But I talk about not playing our game.”
Brent Seabrook scored 9:51 into overtime to help the Blackhawks tie the best-of-seven series at two games apiece and regain the home-ice advantage. Game 5 is tomorrow night in Chicago before the teams return to Boston for Game 6 on Monday.
Although it was the third overtime game of the finals, it looked nothing like the tightly contested and low-scoring first three games. The five second-period goals on Wednesday night were as many as the teams scored in Games 2 and 3 combined, and the 11 goals total were nearly as many as had been scored in the whole series to that point.
“I’m not going to sit here and complain about the high scoring,” Julien said, clarifying that he was more concerned about the poor defensive play that allowed it to happen. “It’s almost like saying we’re not allowed to score or we don’t want to score, and that’s not right. I’d like to win 5-1 instead of losing 6-5, but we want to score. It’s probably the way we gave some of the goals up.”
Bruins forward Chris Kelly said the five goals the Bruins scored proves that, in spite of their reputation as a hard-hitting, defense-first team, “we can skate with them.”
“They’re a good skating team, but so are we,” Kelly said. “I think we can keep up with any team in the league; we’ve proven that. I don’t think it’s the style of hockey that we want to play, but we have guys that can score goals just as well anyone else in the league.”
They just don’t want to.
“That’s almost the pace of how a Pittsburgh game would want to play, or a team that has so much offensive power,” forward Tyler Seguin said. “(I’m) not saying that we don’t, but we were so successful when we were being good in our own zone ... then going and scoring goals.”
One of the things that opened the game up was Chicago’s early scoring. After going more than 120 minutes without getting a puck past Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask, the Blackhawks made it 1-0 on a short-handed goal in the first seven minutes of Game 4.
Then, with the score tied after one period, Chicago took a two-goal lead — its first of the series — with a pair of goals about two minutes apart.
“We put ourselves in a hole a few times. Maybe we had to take some chances to get ourselves back,” Boston defenseman Adam McQuaid said. “It probably wasn’t a game that either team was expecting going in.”
In all, the Blackhawks led 1-0, 3-1, 4-2 and 5-4 before taking the only lead they couldn’t give back, winning 6-5 in overtime.
“I don’t think there was anything free-wheeling about our game,” said Jonathan Toews, who scored a goal and screened Rask on the game-winner. “Evidently we made a few mistakes and kept giving up goals right after we scored, and when we got the momentum, they found a way to get right back. That’s something we want to change if we can do so in the next game.”
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville agreed that trading end-to-end rushes isn’t a path to success in the NHL, especially in the Stanley Cup finals.
But sometimes the games develop that way.
“I think there’s been stretches in all the games where it’s probably been a little bit more free-flowing than others,” Quenneville said. “(Wednesday) night’s game started off like it was kind of not a lot of room, but I think once the puck started going in it seemed like it was end-to-end.
“But I think in all four games, and basically from every minute of every game, the pace has been high-end,” he said, “and you’ve got to make sure you’re moving. They’re quick. We want to make sure we use our quickness, as well.”