The Bruins will take to the ice tomorrow night for their 2013 Stanley Cup playoff run. There are a lot of question marks heading into the post season after winning just two of their final nine contests. Outside of lighting the lamp (or lack thereof) the biggest issues facing the Bruins is their defense, which has been suspect as of late. How will Claude Julien approach the Toronto Maple Leafs?
One of the staples in the playoffs in years past has been the dynamic duo of Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg, but will Julien be able to spare his two top defensemen on one line? Johnny Boychuk, Andrew Ference, Wade Redden and Adam McQuaid have had their troubles this year and it’s still unknown if Dougie Hamilton will get a start or if he will be enjoying the game from the press box as Tyler Seguin did in his early years.
The B’s handled the Maple Leafs pretty well this season winning three out of four games. They have shut down Phil Kessel as usual, as he continues to be invisible when he plays his former squad. Kessel recorded zero points this season against the Black and Gold and is a minus-22 in his career. In 22 games versus the B’s, Kessel has three goals—all on the power play—and six assists. Kessel finished the year with 20 goals and 32 assists so cleary he has to be closely watched on every shift. Chara and Seidenberg took care of him for four games already in 2013 and they must do it again so Kessel does not build confidence.
Bruins fans do not need to worry about Chara and Seidenberg, but the other pairings that Julien will roll out is what should concern you.
Should Julien break up Chara and Seidenberg? If he does not, the other pairings will read Boychuk-Ference and Wayne Redden-Adam McQuaid. That may bring some scrutiny to B’s fans.
The B’s must contain the Leafs big guns of Kessel, Nazem Kadri and James Van Riemsdyk. Kadri and van Riemsdyk both notched 18 goals this season and work at a fast pace. The Black and Gold must try and slow them down by playing their physical style of hockey. If they continue to use their bodies, it should not be a problem. We all know Kessel does not like to be hit. Many B’s fans saw the style their defense played versus the Sedin brothers in the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals. It would not hurt to take the same approach.
If it was up to me, I would break up Chara and Seidenberg. It makes the defense have more depth. With Chara and Seidenberg on the same line, you have to think the Maple Leafs second line who is lethal, will try to expose Boychuk and Ference every chance they possibly have.
It will be very interesting to see what Julien does in game one on Wednesday night. Someone other than Chara and Seidenberg must step up on the Bruins blue-line if the B’s want to keep the Maple Leafs from celebrating because make no mistake about it, the Leafs can score.
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