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BOSTON (CBS) — There was so much focus on the forwards that were mostly responsible for the Bruins’ struggling offense heading into the postseason, no one gave the defensemen a hard time.
But Boston’s blueliners scored just 23 of the team’s 127 goals (18.1 percent) during the 48-game schedule. Oh, how that’s changed in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
With goals from Torey Krug and Johnny Boychuk in their 5-2 win in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals Sunday, the Bruins’ defensemen have now scored four of the club’s eight goals while the team has built a 2-0 series lead.
They’ll look to keep that hot hand going in Game 3 on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden.
For the entire postseason, the Bruins have 10 goals from defensemen among the 30 pucks they’ve put behind Toronto’s James Reimer and New York Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist.
“Well they’ve been really good,” coach Claude Julien said about his defensemen. “I think we’ve seen our team – one of the big things that has helped our game right now is how quickly we’re moving the puck up the ice. And we talked about that after the first round, and instead of slowing the game down we had to pick up the pace a little bit. And our young guys have come in and done exactly that and so have our older guys. We’re moving forward with that puck, and our transition game because of that has been better in this series.”
The Bruins have been able to hit defense trailing the play for open shots from the point. The point men have also been able to get plenty of pucks through to Lundqvist in this round despite the Rangers’ longstanding reputation for being incessant shot blockers. In Game 2, the Rangers were only credited with 12 blocks on the Bruins’ 50 shot attempts.
By packing it in around Lundqvist to block shots, the Rangers are daring the Bruins’ defensemen to fire away. And the Bruins are returning the invitation with enough rubber into the back of the net to put them ahead in this series with a commanding lead.
“Well that [packing it in defensively] doesn’t make it easy for the forwards. They do a great job of blocking shots and stuff as well,” defenseman Adam McQuaid said. “So like I said, we try and chip in when we can offensively. Try to step up and be options for them, and we try to make it maybe more of a team effort as opposed to just putting all the pressure on the forwards.”
Consider the pressure alleviated. Depending on the Rangers’ adjustments moving forward, the responsibility for scoring might shift back to the forwards and it will be up to them to reciprocate the gift the defensemen have provided the Bruins.