The Avalanche are coming to Boston tomorrow, and the Bruins need to wish upon their lucky stars because the Avalanche are bringing the snow.
Patrick Roy’s Avalanche are 3-0 for the first time in franchise history and are riding a hot offensive hand. They started their season blowing the Anaheim Ducks out of the water 6-1 a team that they had no business beating, especially considering the recent history of the Avalanche and how they’ve been playing. They were a team that 2 years ago could barely keep it together game to game and have been one of the hottest teams in the NHL since their first game. Patrick Roy is the kind of guy that can rally a team, and we saw that in his first season with the Quebec Ramparts in the QMJHL when he lead them to a Memorial Cup in his first year as head coach.
He is a guy Bruins fans should be aware of, his long history in Montreal put the Bruins on the brink all the time in the post- season and Roy did win 4 Stanley Cups in his career as well as 3 Conn Smythe trophies. He is the kind of guy that doesn’t take losing lightly, and that kind of driven team is something the Bruins need to watch out for. But what can they do to combat the Avalanche and keep their undefeated streak alive and go 3-0 themselves?
Neutral Zone Two-Way Play
The Bruins have looked good in their last 2 games, but the one thing the team needs to focus the most on is shutting down the Avs in the neutral zone and forcing dump and chase. The Avalanche are playing heavy offensive (unless you count that Toronto game). The Bruins best two-way line is the Bergeron line, and they need to make sure they fix whatever chemistry issues they may be having with Loui Erikkson as soon as humanly possible if they plan on winning this game. The Bruins need to hold down the neutral zone and the defensive blue line if they want to put a dent in the Avalanche’s game plan.
A few years ago, the only thing the Bruins had to worry about against the Avs was trying to hit the back of the net, but with the great improvement Roy has had on the team it’s going to be a lot harder for the Bruins to take control of the puck. Shut down lines need to play shut down hockey, it might be boring but it’s the key to winning the game.
The Power Play
The power play has been very up and down, the Tampa game saw the same just pass and pass powerplay we’ve become accustom to and the Detriot game saw Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara score some sick powerplay goals (especially Krug). The Bruins need to keep Krug on the first line powerplay if they want to start the fix. Plant Chara in front of Varlamov and use Lucic and Iginla on the side with Krug and Krejci holding down the blue line.
We know that Krug has a wicked shot and we also know that Iginla has one too. If Krug isn’t getting concrete on his shot, he needs to pass to Krejci, to Lucic, To Iginla throw the goalie off stride with Chara as the screen and lay the one timer into the net. They need to be consistent and harm the Avalanche with the special teams; don’t let them get in and around the slot and don’t let them try to hold up the puck along the boards. Sharp passes and fast shots are what the Bruins need to fix their powerplay for good, because we definitely have the tools for the job.
Semyon Varlamov cannot be dismissed for his last bad 2 seasons with the Avalanche. He carried the Washington Capitals through 13 games in the 2008-09 season and had a 15-4 record as a back up in the 2009-10 season before running into Jaroslav Halak of the Montreal Canadiens. Rask needs to be on his toes against the Avalanche and he also needs to out battle Varlamov in every aspect the same way Roy and Andy Moog would out duel one another post season after post season in the 80′s and 90′s. The Avalanche’s defence might not be as good as the Bruins, but Varlamov has been stealing games for the Avalanche only giving up 3 goals in the last 3 games giving him a 1.00 GAA and a .967 SV%. He is carrying his team and Rask needs to do the same. We know that we can’t drop the entire load on Rask to handle but the team needs to rely on his abilities and remember to cover him from all angles. Do not give the Avalanche a chance, when they smell blood.. they score.
So, those are the 3 major areas the Bruins need to have high attention on in this game against the Avalanche. Can the Bruins beat Patrick Roy once more, or will the fiery Denver coach break another partition. We will just have to wait until Thursday to find out. if you’re looking to go to the game, Boston Bruins tickets remain available.