Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli did a pretty honest job Saturday in breaking down how he feels his team matches up with the semi-heavy-favorite Canucks in the Stanley Cup finals, which are set to begin Wednesday in Vancouver.
Chiarelli liked the way the Bruins stuck to their game plan for 60 minutes against the Lightning in Game 7, using disciplined defensive play and a strong forecheck to chip away at the Lightning in what became a 1-0 win after Nathan Horton beat the Tampa defense to tap in a pass from David Krejci with 7:33 remaining. It’s the type of game that the B’s brought Friday that makes him like his team’s chances with Vancouver.
“I think we match up size-wise, like you saw in the game last night,” Chiarelli said. “As the game went on — and I could feel this too — as the game went on, you got the sense that you were going to wear them down and something good was going to happen if you just kept kind of them same process, the same system, the same approach. Pucks deep, get behind the D. And I think the same can apply to these guys. Without giving away completely our game plan, that’s how I see us matching up.”
There is no shortage of star power on the Canucks, as Vancouver’s roster boasts the likes of Henrik Sedin, who leads all playoff skaters with 21 points and 19 assists, and identical twin brother Daniel Sedin, whose 104 regular season points led the NHL. Daniel Sedin and Ryan Kesler each had 41 goals in the regular season, whereas the Bruins’ only 30-goal scorer was Milan Lucic.
“Obviously they’ve got the Sedins,” Chiarelli said. “And they’ve played a lot below the goal line, and I think we match up well in that sense because we’re strong defensively. We’ve got some big bodies on defense. And we cover well below the goal line. Now they’re magical sometimes those guys so they’re always dangerous.”
“Their D is strong, I don’t know who they’re getting back. I know [Christian] Ehrhoff has been hurt. And the last pair was, I think it was [Christopher] Tanev and [Keith] Ballard, their five-six pair. But historically throughout the year, their D has been the strength of their team. From the puck-moving perspective, you’ve got the [Alexander] Edlers, the [Kevin] Bieksas, the [Sami] Salos. They can all move the puck and shoot a puck. And of course Ryan Kesler has had a terrific playoffs. He is a similar player to Patrice [Bergeron]. So there’s a lot of similarities. Obviously you’ve got the goalies. There’s a lot of similarities.”
One area in which Chiarelli feels Vancouver has an edge (duh) is special teams. The Bruins have just five power play goals this postseason, while the Canucks were able to knock that out over Games 2 and 3 vs. the Sharks. Vancouver has 16 power play goals this postseason.
“Obviously their special teams are better,” Chiarelli said. “Their power play is better and they throw it around pretty good.
Wednesday’s Game 1 will not be the first meeting between the two teams this season, as the B’s defeated the Canucks, 3-1, on Feb. 26 in Vancouver. For the Bruins, it was the team’s fourth victory in a seven-game win streak, while the Canucks had taken turns winning and losing their eight previous games (4-4-0) entering the contest.
“That game was one of the best games I’ve seen, the game that we played against them, one of the best games that we’ve played throughout the year,” Chiarelli said. “For them, I think they were in a bit of a funk. I had seen them the game before up there and it’s all relative. Their funk is a top twenty-five percent team, top quartile team.”