Boston Bruins: How did Boston’s defense handle Colorado’s top forwards?

DENVER, COLORADO - OCTOBER 10: Zdeno Chara #33 of the Boston Bruins celebrates with his bench after scoring a goal against the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center on October 10, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)
DENVER, COLORADO - OCTOBER 10: Zdeno Chara #33 of the Boston Bruins celebrates with his bench after scoring a goal against the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center on October 10, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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DENVER, COLORADO – OCTOBER 10: Colin Wilson #22 of the Colorado Avalanche skates against Connor Clifton #75 of the Boston Bruins at Pepsi Center on October 10, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images) /

Bruins challenge Colorado’s forwards at the blue line

One thing that really stood out was how Boston’s defensemen challenged Colorado’s forwards at the defensive blue line.

The goal here was to disrupt zone entries and prevent quick strikes from players like MacKinnon and Rantanen. MacKinnon especially is great at flying into the offensive zone to fire shots on net.

These blue-line challenges definitely made a difference. McAvoy challenged MacKinnon a couple times to eliminate clean zone entries. MacKinnon tried to get by on his backhand, but McAvoy closed his space.

Torey Krug followed suit with aggressively play at his defensive blue line. At one point, Krug stepped up, took possession, and then started a counterattack.

When the Bruins didn’t challenge Colorado at the blue line, there were problems. Brandon Carlo got caught flatfooted late in the first period on a penalty kill. If Carlo stepped up and challenged Landeskog at the blue line, he could have prevented a goal.

Connor Clifton made a similar mistake in the third period that led to the tie-breaking goal. Clifton gave up an easy zone entry and then lost an edge as he tried to recover. Andre Burakovsky found an opening and scored.

The outcome against Colorado shows that the Bruins defensemen are at their best when the challenge opponents and dictate play.