Despite a Poor Defensive Showing, Bruins Exploit Weakness in Crawford

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The Bruins have scored six goals once this postseason, beating the Penguins in game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals, 6-1. In game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals, Boston uncharacteristically allowed 6 goals.

All of the talk following Wednesday night’s game was how porous and beatable the Boston blue-line was. In particular, Chicago’s top line combination of Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews wreaked havoc on what it is normally a lockdown defensive group. Kane and Toews each scored in the victory, helping bring this best-of-seven series to a 2-2 tie.

Dennis Seidenberg, Zdeno Chara, and Patrice Bergeron have led the Bruins defensive charge in these 2013 playoffs. They have been so effective that opponents had only been averaging 1.9 goals against them.

To the surprise of many, Chicago found away to exploit the trio. The Blackhawks top skaters utilized their speedy nature in racking up goal after goal. Chara and company appeared slow, out of sorts, and weak.

“It’s pretty frustrating,” said Seidenberg. “It was pretty sloppy of a game all around. There were too many breakdowns on our side.”

Boston’s defensive gurus combined to post an eye popping minus-7. It was by far their worst performance in years.

Joel Quenneville’s team was able to have their way with the Black and gold, establishing a net front presence and generating 47 shots on Tuukka Rask. Because the Boston defense was out of position on many of the Hawks scoring chances, juicy rebounds were given up. Chicago made no mistake in burying them with authority.

“I don’t think we played our best game tonight,” said coach Claude Julien. “There were a lot of different reasons. I think our decision-making wasn’t very good at times. I didn’t think we were moving the puck as well as we had been in the past. It was certainly a tough outing for us tonight.”

Clearly the Bruins know what areas the need to improve for game 5 at United Center on Saturday. But should we be panicking now that the highly touted Hawks offense has seemed to find their stride?

All of the Bruins defensive mistakes can be easily patched up. The chances of Zdeno Chara being on the ice for 5 goals against again are very unlikely. Dennis Seidenberg is as reliable and dependable as they come. He will step up his game. Don’t bank on Tuukka Rask allowing six goals again either.

“But if there’s one positive we can take away this game, it’s that we kept going and kept scoring. That was a good point,” said Dennis Seidenberg.

The good news is the Bruins played like absolute rubbish in game 4 and still nearly found a way to win. Their offense showed that it could compete with Chicago’s run and gun style, scoring 5 goals of their own in impressive fashion.

“We scored five goals,” said coach Claude Julien. “We should be happy with that.”

Julien’s club is indeed “happy” because they succeeded in uncovering a glaring weakness in the game of Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford. Each of the Boston goals beat Crawford on the glove side. High-glove, low-glove, he couldn’t stop a thing. The Bruins won’t admit to it, but they will be peppering the glove side for the remainder of the series.

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Crawford gets beat on the glove-side

“It’s nice to get that many goals on Crawford,” said Brad Marchand.

More likely than not the Bruins will vastly improve there defensive play come game 5. Returning to their suffocating ways is not out of the question either. Throughout this postseason run the Bruins have remarkably shown the ability to adjust and bounce back stronger than ever before.

“The fact that we were able to score five goals is a positive,” added Kelly. “The goals we gave up are mistakes that can be corrected. Moving forward, that’s one of the positives that you’ve got to look at, if you can score five goals.”

Knowing that they can compete in a high scoring affair just adds to their confidence. If need be the Bruins can match the Chicago attack and very well beat them at their own game.

As it stands today, there is no worry at all in the Bruins room. They have been down this road before. They have overcome adverse situations and this time should be no different.

If the Bruins trend of being continually resilient isn’t enough to calm your nerves, Chicago’s Bryan Bickell handed Boston some prime bulletin board material today. The Blackhawk bruiser had some choice words for Big Z.

“He doesn’t like getting hit,” Bickell said of the Boston captain. “Not a lot of guys attempt it, but to get a hit on him and to see him fall down, it’s rare, but I just needed to keep it going.”

You better believe Chara will take note of what Bickell had to say. Chara is the one guy that Chicago does not want to rile up. It’s essentially a given that he will bounce back Saturday with a vintage performance. After all, the guy is very critical of his game and holds himself accountable for the shortcomings his team suffers.

Because Bickell felt inclined to throw a little fuel on the fire, Chicago better be looking over their shoulders come puck drop. As the old adage goes, “Don’t poke the bear.” An extra irritated Boston squad could come out, dominate Chicago, and go for the jugular early on.

Emerging victorious in game 5 would give the Bruins a chance to hoist the Cup on home ice with a game 6 win.

Frank O’Laughlin – Senior NHL Contributor – Titletown Sports Network

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