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Speed kills: Why the Bruins are annoyed with what you think of the Canadiens matchup

04.28.14 at 1:35 pm ET
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Bruins coach Claude Julien gets visibly annoyed when people talk about other teams’ speed being an issue for the Bruins, or the Bruins being too big and slow to hang with any squad with zip.

Turns out Peter Chiarelli does too.

After eliminating a fast team in five games, the Bruins once again face a speedy opponent in the Canadiens, and they’d like to be given a little more credit.

“It’€™s too [much of a] stereotype, and we’€™ve improved our speed,” Chiarelli said Monday. “I just hear about it all year, too, and obviously Claude and I talk, and we get tired of it. We have speed and we have heaviness and we have a little bit of a chip on our shoulder because of that, because of this label that we have. But fair enough. I understand where it’€™s coming from, I understand when you bring it up in the context of the Wings and now the Canadiens because they are — they’€™re both fast teams.”

Chiarelli traded away a lot of speed last summer when he shipped Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley to Dallas, but the team has hardly turned into a bunch of cavemen on skates. The development of strong skaters on the back end in Dougie Hamilton, Torey Krug and Matt Bartkowski has actually made the Bruins a faster team in getting out of their zone and getting through the neutral zone.

Montreal is faster, to be sure, but the Bruins have quickness of their own to go with their physicality, which was seen throughout Boston’s five-game elimination of the Wings.

“It’€™s about closing gaps more quickly. It’€™s about establishing a forecheck and leaning on guys. It’€™s about our special teams,” Chiarelli said. “Both our PK and PP has been outstanding. We maintain that and we’€™re going to have success.”

Indeed they have. The Bruins scored six power-play goals in a series for the first time since 2010 in going 6-for-15 on the power play while holding the Red Wings to two goals on 20 Detroit power plays.

The biggest victim of the “Bruins are slow” narrative is Zdeno Chara, both literally and otherwise. The 6-foot-9 Norris finalist has never been a great skater, and the fact that he’s gotten up there in age and got injured late last postseason has painted the picture in some minds that he can be exposed. That’s yet to really happen though.

“We can’€™t really control what’€™s being said about us or maybe other teams, when they play us,” Chara said. “It’€™s more how we’€™re going to play and how we do things on the ice. I don’€™t think we are a slow team. Obviously we are built a certain way and we want to thrive on the way we’€™re built and excel in areas that we are good at, but I don’€™t think we are necessarily a slow team.

“I think we are able to skate and make quick transitions as well as any other team. I know what we can do it, and I believe that we can play with anybody.”

Said Chiarelli: “Despite the common belief that speed kills, I think we’€™ve shown that we have some speed and we have some size and we have experience. So it will be a challenge, but I think we’€™ll overcome that challenge.”

Read More: Peter Chiarelli, Zdeno Chara,
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