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Bob Beers On Sports Final: Key For Bruins Against Senators Is Solving Neutral Zone

BOSTON (CBS) — The Boston Bruins are back in the playoffs, and thanks to the Toronto Maple Leafs, have avoided a first-round meeting with the top-seeded Washington Capitals.

Instead, the Bruins will square off against the Ottawa Senators. Unfortunately for Boston, they weren’t able to beat the Senators in the regular season, going 0-3-1 in their four tilts.

Bruins radio analyst Bob Beers of 98.5 The Sports Hub is just glad that he’ll get to call some playoff hockey again, and broke down the series with Steve Burton on Sunday night’s Sports Final on WBZ-TV. Beers said if the Bruins want to finally beat the Senators, and get a series win, they’ll have to do a few things differently from their regular season matchups. That starts with figuring out Guy Boucher’s 1-3-1 zone.

“For the Senators specifically, it’s the neutral zone. Between the blue lines, they’re stingy, ugly and boring. If they can come at you, they will, but when they can’t they back off and play, for lack of a better word, that 1-3-1 [zone]. The Bruins have to figure out how to get through that neutral zone with some speed and put the puck behind the defense, where they can establish a forecheck,” said Beers. “Not just put it behind the defense where they’re standing still, Erik Karlsson picks it up and he’s out of the zone. You’ve got to put it in a place where you have speed coming up the ice and you can establish a forecheck. When they can do that, they’re effective against Ottawa. When they’re bogged down in the neutral zone, it gets a little ugly.”

There’s a giant question mark surrounding the Bruins’ defense heading into the postseason, with Torey Krug dealing with a lower-body injury. He was seen with a brace on his right knee when the Bruins closed out the regular season on Saturday, and his status is unknown for the playoffs.

“He is their best puck-moving defenseman by far. Not only that but he jumps into the rush, he adds to the offense and does a lot of things for them up the ice, creating the energy and pace they’re looking for,” Beers said of Krug. “We don’t know what the status is there, but let’s assume he’s not playing right now. It doesn’t look good and that’s a huge hole. How do they replace it? They used Colin Miller in the last game against Washington; he has some good things that make him a good defenseman, like his speed and his ability to skate the pick out of trouble. But he can skate into trouble too.

While the Bruins said they wouldn’t call up Charlie McAvoy this season, Beers said it has to be something they’re considering with Krug potentially on the shelf.

Beers also touched on Brad Marchand’s return, and the play of goaltender Tuukka Rask. See the entire interview in the video above, and tune in to Sports Final and Sports Final OT every Sunday night at 11:35 p.m. on WBZ-TV!

Bob Beers also joined 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich on Monday morning to discuss the playoffs:

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