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INSIDE THE NUMBERS: Bruins Defense is Key

Bruins Defense is keyJUNE 22, 2013 — CHICAGO — Heading into Game 5 Saturday night, the Boston Bruins are faced with the challenge of sticking with what works.  That is, defensive zone coverage is their most effective game plan, as the series shot totals prove.

From a Bruins perspective, it’s time to get back to basics and play from the defensive zone up – and stop relying on Tuuka Rask to come up with huge games. When the Bruins started playing defensive zone coverage, which was in the first overtime of Game 1 up until Game 4 – their shot records per period are much better than the Blackhawks’ with six periods won, one tie and one period where they had one less shot than the Blackhawks.

This game plan works.

Things were going well for the Bruins up until a Game 4 defensive zone meltdown. In terms of shots on net, the Bruins lost the second and third periods of the first game because they had failed to take care of their zone first. The Bruins then recognized their mistakes, going on to win virtually every period up until Game 4.

Game 1: (4-3 Chicago) The Blackhawks outshot the Bruins 63-53.

1st Period: The Bruins allowed Chicago to have just eight shots on net, and the Bruins played great in their own zone. Second period, Chicago outshot the B’s 16-6. 3rd Period: Chicago again dominated with 15 shots compared to the Bruins’ 8.

Except for the brilliant play of Rask, the Bruins defense was almost nowhere to be found. Rask bailed the Bruins from getting blown out by the Blackhawks in these two periods alone. The score was 3-3 going into overtime, and the Bruins were lucky to have Rask standing on his head having already seen 17 more shots on net between the second and third period than Corey Crawford.

Game 2: (Boston 2-1) The Bruins’ game plan worked. The Bruins held the Blackhawks to 34 overall shots compared to 63 in the first game, with Rask recording a shutout. For Rask to see 29 less shots in Game 2 was a big accomplishment.

Game 3: (2-0 Bruins). Bruins defense zone play was even better than the second game, having no bad periods at all (defensively speaking). They held Chicago to 28 shots compared to 34 in Game 2. The Bruins’ defense is growing better and better, while the Blackhawks’ offense became increasingly frustrated.

Game 4: (6-5 Blackhawks) Game 4 was a disaster for the Bruins, a complete defensive zone letdown, the Bruins outshot in all three periods and overall by 47-33.

When the Bruins play defense first, they win periods and games by containing the Blackhawks’ lethal offense from getting shots on net. The Bruins have won 8 of 17 periods when playing tending to their own zone first.

Rask is simply not going to win it by himself, and Patrice Bergeron’s great scoring efforts can only take them so far. The Bruins defense have found a game plan that works, but sticking with it is another story.  Source

INSIDE THE NUMBERS: 
Shots on goal Games 1-4 (Yellow = Won Period)

Bruins Defense Chart

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