The Bruins turn around winning streak was cut short by the Ottawa Senators this past Friday, when the Sens stormed back from an 0-2 deficit to win the game 4-2. The Bruins have been resting for the past 2 days and will now take on the 4th seeded Metropolitan Carolina Hurricanes.
The Hurricanes are currently sitting with an 8-4-4 record coming off of their own 4-2 to loss to the red hot St. Louis Blues. The Hurricanes have been having a better start than they did in the 2012-13 season. However the team has been plagued by injuries losing top wingers Jeff Skinner and Alexander Semin, as well as back up and former Bruin Anton Khudobin. They are also without Joni Pitkanen and Kevin Westgarth on the blue line, so the Bruins should be able to exploit the huge holes up front and jump out to an early lead.
The Bruins big problem against the Senators on Friday was they were letting Ottawa get open ice and with speedy forwards like Bobby Ryan on the ice that’s bad news for any team. The Bruins were gassed, having to play back to back games with one being an overtime winner and the other against their strongest opponents in their division. Ottawa has always given the Bruins a serious run for their money every time they play one another, as do the Hurricanes. But with some rest the Bruins should be able to get back to defensive formation better and be able to attack much faster.
The Bruins played a terrible defensive game against Ottawa and didn’t play that good of one against Columbus either. Despite winning the Blue Jackets game, it was won by the skin of their teeth. It seems the Bruins by the time the third period rolls around are getting comfortable much like they were doing in the 2011-12 and 2012-13 season. Third period collapses this early in the season will catch up to the Bruins if they are not careful and have to get back to applying their effort to defense. If the Bruins can play solid back-check and fore-checking game their offensive opportunities will open themselves up. Do not be afraid to jump up on the Canes and force mistakes out of them and do not be afraid to run with the puck and at least make a shot on goal attempt. Do not try to make these elaborate power-play-esque set ups in a 5 on 5 situation. Take away the middle of the ice, screen the goalie and set up in the rebound areas. The Bruins have big body forwards like Lucic and Iginla who can take away the middle of the ice and skilled scorers in Krejci and Erikksson who can put the puck away when opportunities like this arise. It seems like both lines are trying to over strategize instead of crashing the net and playing hard in the dirty areas.
Another thing the Bruins seem to be slacking on (and have been for quite sometime) is pinching along the blue line. If you know the Hurricanes are going to make a clearing attempt from the blue line, do not fall back. Torey Krug and Johnny Boychuk have been two of the most consistent pinchers the Bruins have along the blue line and have been doing their job exceptionally well. Force the puck back down into their zone and do not be afraid to hold them up at the line. If the Bruins defense can keep the Hurricanes back on their heels and allow for the Bruins to play their hard game in the offensive zone it should be no issue scoring against this depleted squad.
I briefly mentioned earlier about “powerplay setups”. That’s one area we all thought the Bruins would have improved in through out the gate but are still struggling with. The Bruins are 17th in the league with 18.0% percentage and 9 goals in 20 chances. The Bruins work well with Chara in front of the net there is no question, but has anyone thought of using Krejci’s passing and playmaking skill to make the same “Dot to dot” pass that Savard used to do to the left side for a one timer or deflection? Instead of point blasts (which do work, don’t get me wrong) if we want guys like Iginla and Erikksson to advance the powerplay, they need to be more open to playmaking and not be afraid to pass around and set up tighter coverage and chances. The Hurricanes are also sitting in 21st on the penalty kill with a 80.6 % kill and have let up 14 power play goals in 72 powerplays. There should be no excuse for an abysmal powerplay performance when we saw it flourishing in the pre-season.
Puck is set to drop at 7:05! Let’s Go Bruins!