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Sustained pressure at both ends of the ice prevents Flyers from getting back in the game
Posted By Scott McLaughlin On May 4, 2011 @ 11:43 pm In General | No Comments
Last year, the Bruins failed to keep their foot on the gas pedal and let the Flyers back into a 3-0 series and back into a 3-0 Game 7. Whether the Bruins can finish off the Flyers in this series remains to be seen, but they showed on Wednesday night that they’re not about to ease off the gas again. After jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the game’s opening 63 seconds, the Bruins refused to let up and continued to pressure the Flyers at both ends of the ice.
“I think we knew there was still lots of hockey left to play, and it was important for us to keep playing our game and not all of a sudden go into a shell or sit back,” Claude Julien said. “They’re a team that is very good offensively and if you give them some space or if you sit back, they’re going to make you pay for it.”
The Bruins made it clear they weren’t going to sit back with a pair of huge hits on the forecheck. First it was Brad Marchand, who knocked Ville Leino clean off his skates with a hard shoulder to the chest. Later in the first period, Daniel Paille unloaded on Kris Versteeg and sent the forward sprawling into the boards.
“There were a couple big hits, and we need that,” said defenseman Johnny Boychuk, who had a nice hip check of his own on Leino in the defensive zone. “It’s a physical game in the playoffs. We just need guys to play like that and not run out of position to get that hit and give up an odd-man rush or something like that. They picked their spots and there were a couple great hits.”
Even when they weren’t landing bone-jarring hits, the Bruins were consistently disrupting Philadelphia’s breakouts. They got sticks on passes, forced them to circle back toward their own end and pressured them into turnovers.
“I think our forecheck was really good,” defenseman Dennis Seidenberg said. “Our forwards were really getting on their D. Even when they were coming out of their zone, our guys were stepping up and having good gaps and just keeping them from coming with speed into the middle.”
Once the Flyers did get out of their zone, they still weren’t able to get away from the pressure. The Bruins hustled on the backcheck all night long and prevented the Flyers from making many clean rushes up the middle.
“That’s key for us,” Paille said. “We’re a big defensive team and we take a lot of pride in backchecking. I think that’s something that’s been very positive for us throughout these whole playoffs.”
Although the Flyers managed to register 38 shots on goal, they mustered only a handful of quality scoring chances because the Bruins forced most of their shots to come from the perimeter. When Philly tried to center the puck or crash the net for rebounds, the Bruins were there to lift sticks and clear away loose pucks. That was a welcomed change for Tim Thomas, who had to face one great chance after another in Game 2, especially in the third period and overtime.
“I looked up at the scoreboard after the game and I had 38 shots, but the quality compared to last game was totally different,” Thomas said. “I didn’t have a breakaway today. I had at least three last game. I don’t know if I really had an odd-man rush.
“My D played good right in front of me and in the crease, but it was forwards and us playing team defense,” Thomas added. “The forwards were pressuring on the puck, which kept them to the outside and forced them to shoot from places I’m sure they normally wouldn’t like to shoot from. They’d like to get to a better spot, but we didn’t give them that option.”
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