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Can the Penguins break through Boston’s ‘easy’ system?

Jun 5, 2013, 1:28 PM EDT

Sidney Crosby Getty Images

It may be tough to beat, but if you ask Claude Julien, the Bruins’ defensive system isn’t complicated.

“It really isn’t,” Boston’s head coach said this morning. “What we try and do is eliminate the gray areas, make it black and white, and it really is easy.

“This game shouldn’t be a complicated one.”

Not that Julien was willing to go into specifics. He’ll leave that to the Penguins to try and figure out tonight in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals at TD Garden.

So far, the high-powered Pittsburgh offense has managed just one goal in two games against Boston’s uncomplicated defense that’s predicated on hard work and responsibility.

“I think it’s pretty obvious that we have layers,” Julien said yesterday. “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.”

According to Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, one of the keys to getting back in the series will be to stay patient on offense.

“They’re a team who’s going to kind of wait for your mistakes,” he said yesterday, “and I think we’ve made a little bit too many with the ones we’ve made. I think we can just be a little bit more patient in our game.”

Other keys for Pittsburgh:

—- Try and score first. The Bruins have played with the lead for most of the series, and they’ve been very effective with it.

—- If the Bruins score first, try not to force it. Granted, that’s easier said than done when the panic starts to build, but attacking as a five-man unit is the only way against a team with numbers behind the puck. Especially one with Zdeno Chara.

—- Discipline. It’s going to be an emotional atmosphere at TD Garden. Teams have lost their composure before in that rink. Pittsburgh can’t afford to be another one.

“We haven’t really been happy with the way we’ve played,” Bylsma said today. “We’ve gotten off our game and deviated from it.

“We’re going to find out an awful lot about our mindset and our team in this game.”

Related: Vokoun to start for Penguins

  1. bruinsyea - Jun 5, 2013 at 1:45 PM

    No

  2. joestemme - Jun 5, 2013 at 2:35 PM

    Cue the folks decrying the Bruins for being a boring defensive minded team that have shut down a mighty offense.

    The point in sports is to win. Period.

    You don’t get style points – unless it’s on Sportscenter. There a dunk in a 120-87 blowout is more important than a 12 foot jumper that clinches a tied game in the final seconds.

    Other than Chara, maybe the Bruins don’t have an A List Superstar, but, they play a solid TEAM game and display a ton of intensity and hard-work.

    • lostpuppysyndrome - Jun 5, 2013 at 2:45 PM

      Most teams that expect their defence to play, you know, defence tend to do reasonably well. Also, while I don’t typically watch the Bruins during the regular season, their hockey has been anything but boring during the playoffs. Crosby nailed it in that the B’s just wait for you to make mistakes and then make you pay for them. That’s pretty solid hockey in my book.

    • 19to77 - Jun 5, 2013 at 3:02 PM

      Eh. I’d say Rask is a top-5 netminder at this point. If Lundqvist and Quick are stars, he’s not at all far behind them.

      • joestemme - Jun 5, 2013 at 3:40 PM

        I take you point, but, through three rounds of the playoffs, Rask has been considered a major question mark, not only in the national media, but, in some quarters in Boston as well. And, though his numbers merited consideration, Rask did not make the final round of Vezina voting.
        Bottom line: I don’t Rask is considered an A List player —- yet.

      • jimthebear - Jun 5, 2013 at 3:46 PM

        Rask has big shoes (skates) to fill being the following act to Tim Thomas.. That is why there are doubters. This playoff run should exorcise that ghost..

      • hockeyflow33 - Jun 5, 2013 at 5:09 PM

        It should but even in game two he let in a goal in the final minute of the period and it killed the Bruin’s momentum. Luckily he was bailed out by Marchand but he let’s these momentum changing goals in far too often.

  3. tlndma - Jun 5, 2013 at 2:45 PM

    Whether it’s three men getting caught deep or a guy taking himself out of the play to finish a check, I’ve been suprised with how sloppy the Penguins have played.
    Bylsma in an interview, the other day, said something along the lines of, “we know if we can score 4 goals we can win”. The Bruins think they can win scoring one. I don’t think Pittsburgh thinks one goal will be enough.
    The Bruins know Pittsburgh is bringing the kitchen sink tonight. Should be a heck of a game. Can’t wait.

    • hockey412 - Jun 5, 2013 at 2:51 PM

      Agree completely.

      I think they stand a better shot if Bylsma makes them all drink warm milk before the game. Calm down, look for a play, and make the play.

      Maybe try some point shots with guys in front, too. The only guys in front of Rask so far in this series have been Bruins. Rask has been great and hasn’t let up too many rebounds, but when he has, there hasn’t been anyone there anyway.

      • 19to77 - Jun 5, 2013 at 3:24 PM

        Thing is, it’s hard as hell to stay in front of Rask if you’re not wearing a Bruins jersey. That’s the point of their playstyle. They swarm to protect Rask and they clear the screen area more effectively than any other team – which stands to reason when you realize how big and physical their D are. Not easy to get in Rask’s face when Chara’s getting in yours.

      • hockey412 - Jun 5, 2013 at 4:20 PM

        I agree with that too – I give them complete credit there – but I also see too much time spent on the side boards. If tonight is similar to the other nights, watch what happens when the Pens get it back to the point – the wings spread out to the side boards. I think they’re trying to draw the B’s D out – to make them chase, but it’s not working. It’s like they know they won’t win that battle in front so they aren’t fighting it. The D-men in turn either fake a shot and pass to the side boards, or just dump it back down. I say take your knocks, get the eff in there, and block the goalie. The Boston D is also capable of taking silly penalties by playing a little too rough down there (not so much Chara)

  4. papajack1259 - Jun 5, 2013 at 3:12 PM

    There are defining moments in an athletes career this could be Rasks moment. there are also reality checks in management Someone tell Dan his job is on the line and let the Pens know hockey must be played not talked about yesterday’s goals are worthless today Two more Go Bruins!

  5. pastabelly - Jun 5, 2013 at 3:42 PM

    Try and score first as a strategy. Wow!!!!!! That works much better than trying to let the other team score first.

    • jimthebear - Jun 5, 2013 at 3:50 PM

      Derek Sanderson’s keys to the game… ‘Score more goals than your opponent’.. Damn, wish I knew that earlier in my playing time..

  6. drone501 - Jun 5, 2013 at 3:55 PM

    you mean the neutral zone trap?

  7. skarfacci - Jun 5, 2013 at 3:59 PM

    They are being out worked and outplayed. Holding a team to one goal over two games is no accident. Bruins are a more physical team. Remember two years ago when they literally beat up Vancouver. Do people think that the team has suddenly disappeared. Physicality always wins in hockey.

    • captaincj35 - Jun 5, 2013 at 4:40 PM

      I think the Penguins are being more “physical” so far… but too their detriment. In both games they out-hit the Bruins, but the Bruins just collectively grinned, shrugged off the hits, and made the plays they needed too… line-by-line, shift-after-shift, one period after the other.

      That speaks to toughness, or “grit”. Take the big check and make the chip up the boards to get the puck out of your zone… sacrifice the body to spring your linemate for a 2-on-1 going the other way. The Bruins are putting on a clinic about what true “toughness” really is, and much like Vancouver learned in 2011, Pittsburgh is learning no team is “tougher” in the playoffs – at least when they wake up – than the Bruins.

  8. revansrevenant - Jun 5, 2013 at 4:22 PM

    There’s no denying that parking the bus is boring, but there is a reason that so many teams in hockey and football use the tactic. It is an excellent equalizer. Not perfect, but excellent.

  9. amityvillefun - Jun 5, 2013 at 5:14 PM

    I sooooo hope Sidney and the Pens lose tonight. I can’t stand them, Montreal and Vancouver for their pathetic whining and style of play. Hockey is supposed to be a “tough sport.” If there is no whining in baseball, it certainly is an anathema to hockey! The guy just makes me sick to even look at him. Sure, he has skills, no doubt, but his demeanor has completely undermined my ability to respect him.

    If all goes well, Boston fans can drink Cindy’s tears this evening, like Eric Cartman did to Scott Tenorman!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scott_Tenorman_Must_Die

    One other thing….the Bruins never should have let the fight against Bergeron go unredressed. Malkin can start with a guy that has a history of concussions while Sid is LUCKY Chara didn’t manhandle him for messing with him and Rask needlessly in game one! That wasn’t a good move on Bergeron’s part. Brave yes, but given his history, not very wise.

    Keep your head out of the fights Patrice. The Bruins need you and you are too talented to waste your time with that nonsense. Let the Shawn Thornton’s of the world do their job….you keep doing yours!

    Don’t let up Bruins. Run them down, and run them out!

  10. capsrockva - Jun 5, 2013 at 7:42 PM

    Let’s go Bruins. At least for this round

  11. greenmtnboy31 - Jun 5, 2013 at 10:01 PM

    If Tuukku ain’t playing coo coo, the B’s are out!

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