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Bruins’ Chara not giving away the ‘game plan’ against Penguins

Jun 1, 2013, 12:06 AM EDT

Boston Bruins vs Pittsburgh Penguins Getty Images

Just how are the Boston Bruins going to slow down Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins?

It’s a really good question, and be sure the Bruins have formulated a plan.

Are they going to tell any of us what it is prior to its deployment? Apparently not.

“I’m not talking about what the game plan is. Sorry,” said Bruins’ captain Zdeno Chara, as he spoke to reporters Friday, prior to Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final against the Penguins.

The challenge facing the Bruins – the 2011 Stanley Cup champions – is shutting down the highest scoring team in these playoffs.

Two years ago, they kept the Vancouver Canucks in check on their way to the ultimate championship.

The Penguins are averaging 4.27 goals per game in these playoffs, and Crosby is atop at the top of the league in goals and not far off the league lead in points.

Perhaps the key to shutting down the Penguins will be the ability for Bruins’ coach Claude Julien to match lines, especially on the road.

That’s easier said than done.

“Sometimes you have to have trust in your lines that they can do the job and then we have seen that on our team where our fourth line has been paired up against the other team’s top line,” said Julien, “and they know who is out there when they are out there and they make sure that they do the job properly and don’t give them scoring chances.”

  1. whammy71 - Jun 1, 2013 at 12:28 AM

    Boston has a 2 part game plan. #1. Don’t get blown out. #2. Don’t get swept.

    Better start reaching for your clubs.

    • mp1131211 - Jun 1, 2013 at 2:46 PM

      Exactly. I was thinking its probably more of a survival guide than a game plan. How to create fire out of cold stones and wet sticks…. let’s see… pee in a bag?

      OK- I really just wanted everyone to see that video, but hey- go penguins!

  2. bigbuffguy95 - Jun 1, 2013 at 1:24 AM

    Two things: First, as good as that Vancouver team was, it didn’t have quite as much firepower as the Penguins. The Canucks led the league in scoring that year at 3.15 goals per game (they also led the league in fewest goals allowed, which I had forgotten). This year’s Penguins averaged 3.38 goals in the regular season. That doesn’t seem like a huge difference, but it is noticeable.

    Where there *is* a huge difference is in offensive production in the playoffs. The Canucks saw their scoring fall to 2.8 goals per game heading into the Stanley Cup Finals (through the first two rounds, it was even worse, at 2.3 goals per game). The Penguins, on the other hand, are averaging nearly 4.3 goals per game, and they’re the best offense through two rounds in a couple of decades.

    That might look unsustainable, but I also thought they’d slow down against Ottawa, a team that allowed fewer goals than Boston in the regular season and has a goalie who had the best numbers of anyone in the regular season. Didn’t happen (well, except for Game 3, when Anderson was just out of his mind). Also, the Penguins have battled injuries for most of the season, and they’ve made additions through trade. It wasn’t until Crosby came back against the Islanders that we really saw what this offense was capable of with everyone playing. I don’t think they’ll average 4.27 goals per game against the Bruins, but they’ll score plenty.

    The other thing, the thing that just about nobody seems to be mentioning, is that Boston won the Cup in 2011 primarily because of a Vezina and Conn Smythe winning goalie (Tim Thomas), who is no longer on the team. Against the Canucks, Thomas had an incredible .967 save percentage, and it still took seven games. And it’s not like the defense was really shutting Vancouver down. Except for Game 5, the Canucks got at least 33 shots on goal in every game and at least 37 in four. And only one of those game (Game 2) went into overtime. If Rask can do *that* against the Penguins, the Bruins will probably win. But I don’t think he can.

    • 19to77 - Jun 1, 2013 at 1:47 AM

      Hit the nail square on the head. With the Sedins underperforming, Kesler injured in the Predators series and no longer able to continue his absurd performance after the first two rounds and all of Boston’s defense, their pride and joy, playing a stellar series – Tim Thomas *still* had to stand on his head and post absolutely historic numbers to get Boston a seven-game victory. It’s easy to pretend it wasn’t close because of the Luongo blowouts or something like that, but shots and save percentage don’t lie – as much as Luongo imploded, Tim Thomas had to be inches shy of *perfect* to give Boston the chance to win.

      Now Thomas is long gone – and the Penguins are better than the Canucks ever were. Rask will have to play absolutely out of his mind to win this thing. I just can’t see it happening.

      • stratomaticfan - Jun 1, 2013 at 11:56 AM

        You talk about Thomas standing on his head, but the defense stymied the top scoring team, and the offense took down the the Jennings trophy winners for best goaltenders. Not to mention that the ‘Nucks won the Presdient’s trophy. This series could go either way

      • 19to77 - Jun 1, 2013 at 2:25 PM

        Despite the Jennings, Luongo allowed 23 goals over five of the seven games in the Finals (and, yes, posted two shutouts – but you can’t suck that badly the rest of the time and expect to win).

        The defense DIDN’T stymie them. That’s the point. As bigbuff said, they allowed over 33 shots every game – even when the ‘Nucks were LOSING – and Thomas had to post a stunning save percentage to hold their offense back. Can essentially the same D corps that just let Vancouver walk in and fire a barrage like that on Thomas survive an even stronger one from Pittsburgh, with a less superb goalie in net? All credit to Rask for being what he is, but he isn’t 2011 wizard-mode Tim Thomas. The cards aren’t in the Bruins’ favour.

  3. bobhpine - Jun 1, 2013 at 1:51 AM

    Their game plan will be Flyers-esque…goon it up and hope the Pens get off their game. It won’t work. A) The Pens learned their lesson and B) they don’t hate the Bruins the way they hate the Flyers.

    I enjoy the speculation that the big bad Bruins are going to push around the Penguins.

    Bruins forward avg. height/weight: 6’1″/203
    Bruins D avg. weight: 6’2″/ 211

    Pens forward avg. height/weight: 6’0″/200
    Pens D avg. weight: 6’1″/215

    The Bruins will be forced to play the Pens game and they just don’t have the scoring to keep pace. It should be over in five

    • jimmyjr406 - Jun 1, 2013 at 8:18 AM

      Wow. you guys are forgetting something important…

      its the playoffs. anything can happen. players show up, players disappear.

      bruins in 6.

      pittsburgh hasnt faced a defense this good or a penalty kill this good.

      defense wins championships. not fire power.

      • fbothharbaughs - Jun 1, 2013 at 11:06 AM

        Last I checked, sir, Ottawa’s Anderson is a Vezina candidate & your B’s are killing penalties around 81% in these playoffs.

        So I’d say you’re wrong on both counts…

    • mp1131211 - Jun 1, 2013 at 2:49 PM

      I admire your stat mining with those averages, but I don’t think 1 inch and 3 pounds is a big difference. And you’ve listed the D as 15 pounds heavier in favor of the Pens.

      I get the point that Bruins are a rougher, nastier team, but I’m not sure its due to an extra inch and 3 pounds up front.

    • mp1131211 - Jun 1, 2013 at 2:51 PM

      After all, it was Cooke that laid out Savard and not the other way around…………….

  4. tlndma - Jun 1, 2013 at 8:11 AM

    Bruins and Bruins fans know this is a great team they’re going up against. The biggest difference in Pitt vs Van comparison is Crosby. We’ve all seen his penchant for showing up in the clutch. The other difference is Boston exposed Vancouvers lack of grit. After game 3 Boston no longer had respect for the Canucks and I think they new they would win. I think Boston knows how tough Pitt is and they know they have to play great to have a chance. I don’t think you’ll see much shenanigans.
    If Boston has a chance it’s in goal. Vokoun will have to crack and Rask play his best.

    • handsofsweed - Jun 1, 2013 at 11:14 AM

      Well, you’re spot on, except for completely missing the other major difference between Pittsburgh and Vancouver….Evgeni Malkin.

      And Dan Bylsma. And Iginla, Neal and Dupuis and Letang. And pretty much the entire Pens roster > Vancouver’s.

  5. theageofquarrel - Jun 1, 2013 at 8:32 AM

    The Penguins shouldn’t even show up. They are over matched in every aspect. Weak forwards, crappy defense, not physical at all, goaltending just sucks so bad and the coaching is not even in the same league as Boston. Did I miss anything?

    • handsofsweed - Jun 1, 2013 at 11:16 AM

      You forgot to mention that the Pens just don’t have the team speed to stay with Boston and that the Pens also don’t have any veteran leadership with Cup pedigree.

      And to mention that there are a lot of folks who don’t get sarcasm.

      • mp1131211 - Jun 1, 2013 at 5:14 PM

        wait…. this is sarcastic? It fits the profile of typical Bruin fan comments to a T. Sarcasm didn’t even register

    • mp1131211 - Jun 1, 2013 at 2:55 PM

      You forgot to mention that Lucic’s mood swings are unpredictable, that Cooke almost killed Savard when you described them as weak, and that the Bruins are only in this final because their opponent in the first round simply gave up for 5 minutes.

  6. mightaswellbeespn - Jun 1, 2013 at 8:37 AM

    Interesting how the article lists Sid as being tops in goals and near the top in points. The article doesn’t mention he’s behind two of his teammates in that point category. It also fails to mention Crosby is one of three minus players on the Pens and has double digit giveaways.

    How do the Bruins shut down the Penguins would be a legitimate discussion. How does Chara shut down Crosby doesn’t give enough credit to their respective teams. He might be the best player in the world, but like in ’09, he hasn’t been the best player on his own team.

    • cheesesteak75 - Jun 1, 2013 at 8:46 AM

      It’s too bad you haven’t seen a Pens playoff game this year.

    • fbothharbaughs - Jun 1, 2013 at 11:05 AM

      So following your theory, guess the B’s won’t use one of the best defensive forwards in the game in Bergeron or one of the best d-men in the league. use those two against “the two teammates he’s behind in the point(s) category” and lemme know how that works out for ya…

  7. dboldave - Jun 1, 2013 at 11:18 AM

    I think Pitt is better than that Vancouver team of 2011, much more physical for sure. I still like the Bruins chances here and while this Pitt team is stacked, I think Vokoun is beatable. If they continue to play like they did against the Rangers, this should be a good series. They def need to stay out of the penalty box though, I know everyone is saying the depth will be tested in this series but I think the special teams play will be the deciding factor with these two teams.

  8. tampaskinsfan - Jun 1, 2013 at 12:42 PM

    All the focus is on Crosby and its deserved. The factor to me is Iginla. He hasn’t been this close to sniffing the Cup since 04 and he’s HUNGRY. I look for him to have an outstanding series. If both teams play their best, I still have to say Pens in six. They’re are just too deep.

  9. itsallniceonice - Jun 1, 2013 at 1:30 PM

    Bruins in 5. I’d say sweep but Crosby should be good for 1 win.

  10. girouxed - Jun 1, 2013 at 5:25 PM

    Penguins in 7

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