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Boston’s potential strategy to deal with Vancouver? Play like Predators

May 31, 2011, 4:00 PM EDT

Shea Weber, Daniel Sedin Getty Images

In taking a look at how the Stanley Cup finals shape up, the way the Vancouver Canucks have improved each round. After being pushed to overtime in Game 7 of the first round against Chicago, they went six games with Nashville, and just five against San Jose in the Western Conference finals. While the Bruins don’t have any former Blackhawks to work as a potential bogeyman for Roberto Luongo to have nightmares over, there’s another solution the Bruins could use to try and find a way to slow down the Canucks. They can play like the Nashville Predators.

While the Predators ultimately folded against the Canucks, one thing they were able to do was shut down the Sedin twins. Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin combined for two goals and five assists over the six games and while that’s still OK production, it’s not like the kind of numbers we saw from the pair against either Chicago or San Jose. The Predators key to shutting them down was to have a pair of stellar defenders in Shea Weber and Ryan Suter shadow them for the majority of the series.

As it works out, the Bruins have a pair of defensemen playing spectacular themselves in the form of Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg. While Chara is the main focus of the defense, Seidenberg has been the sleeper hit of the playoffs for the Bruins. With the two of them paired up together, they were able to make life miserable on Tampa Bay and Philadelphia’s forwards. While Tampa forwards had a bit more success scoring, the work Chara and Seidenberg did throughout the Eastern Conference finals was outstanding. To beat Vancouver, those two will have to take a page out of Nashville’s book on how to stop the twins.

After seeing what Henrik Sedin did against San Jose scoring one goal and adding 11 assists, while Daniel Sedin added two goals and four assists of his own while helping linemate  Alex Burrows come away with three goals and three assists of his own, the defensive capabilities of not just Chara and Seidenberg will be tested but also those of potentially Patrice Bergeron and Chris Kelly.

Bergeron and Kelly are two of Boston’s better defensive centers with Bergeron being perhaps the best on the Bruins roster. Figuring out how to shadow both the Sedin line and Ryan Kesler‘s line will be something coach Claude Julien will have to figure out. Nashville was able to shut down the Sedins but Kesler abused the rest of Nashville’s defense on his way to single-handedly dominating the series and vaulting himself to the top of the Conn Smythe Trophy consideration list.

If the Bruins can get all of their forwards as well as their defense to stick together and play “Bruins hockey” to help neutralize the Sedins, the series shapes up to be much more interesting than it appears on first glance. Taking the Sedins out of the scoring mix makes these teams a lot more similar than they already are and for Boston, taking that elite level of talent out of the mix would be a huge win for Boston. Asking Chara and Seidenberg and the rest of the Bruins to do that for up to seven games makes for quite the tall order.

  1. Chris Ross - May 31, 2011 at 4:54 PM

    I think that no doubt the Canucks have the edge in the series. The only thing I don’t have them edging the Bruins in is goaltending but with the way Thomas has been playing you can’t really say the Bruins have the edge here. Nevertheless, Thomas could get hot at any time and that could be very scary for the Canucks. The depth on defence or offence for the Bruins doesn’t quite match up with Vancouver, especially with Malhotra coming back. The Bruins should hope that Ryan Kesler still isn’t 100% because if he is they’re going to have some problems matching up with all the Canucks can throw at them. The Canucks should beat the Bruins but anything can happen in the NHL playoffs and an upset isn’t out of the question by any means. Should be an outstanding series for sure.

    http://chrisross91.wordpress.com/2011/05/31/why-isnt-anyone-worried-about-ryan-kesler/

  2. tommytd - May 31, 2011 at 7:57 PM

    I still don’t think the Sedin sisters are gamers…we’ll see.

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