Bruins Shut Out Chicago, Continue Raising Game
BOSTON - Following a 3-0 shutout of the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday night, the Bruins are 13-0-1 in their past 14 games. Their last regulation loss came on March 1.
In their past 10 games, they have allowed two goals or less. Two of those games have been shutouts.
"It’s not something you really are always thinking about, that I knew," said Patrice Bergeron, of the stats. "It is something that is part of our game as a team as a whole. We are a defense type of team and we get some offense with playing defensively sound."
"So I think we have to keep that going."
It's no secret that Boston's pride stems from their defensive responsibility. Their structure and layers - when executed - give them the results they want.
"We’re in the right position right now, as far as where you want to be at this time of year," said Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien. "Almost every gameday morning, we spend time looking at an area where we feel might have slipped a little bit. So, we’re staying on top of things, too."
"'Satisfied' is not a word that exists in our dressing room. Happy is one thing but you continue to strive to get better and there’s always parts of your game, including tonight, that you want to get better at. So, we’re just, as a coaching staff, we just want to stay on top of those things and make sure we keep our guys sharp."
Only nine game remain now for the Bruins, with seven of those coming on the road.
"We don’t want to be kind of too relaxed or kind of send the message that, ‘hey, we are okay, we should take it easy now,’" said Captain Zdeno Chara.
"I think that would be a big mistake. I don’t think that will happen with this team. We just kind of keep it always intense and sharp and always, emotionally, we have to be in that hunt as we would be in the push for the playoffs."
"That’s something that as players, as leaders on this team, we have to make sure that doesn’t happen."
The win over Chicago didn't necessarily have the animosity of a game against Montreal, or the same physicality. It didn't have much chippiness, or scrums. It didn't have fights. It didn't have ample scoring chances at both ends. It wasn't even the same intensity as the teams' first meeting back on January 19 in Chicago, when they faced each other for the first time since Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final.
But it was still a hard-fought game by the Black & Gold.
The game mostly took place between the bluelines. Chicago's unique transition game means the Bruins need to always come back up ice with numbers, to cancel out opportunities off the attack.
"We managed [the puck] better than they did I think and it paid off for us," said Tuukka Rask, who earned his League-leading seventh shutout of the season with his 28 saves in the win.
Consistently throughout the past 27 games, in which they are 21-2-4, the Bruins have picked up points from 20 different teams in the League.
"In playoffs, you don't know who you're going to be playing against. Sometimes you play teams that are really tough, good on the forecheck; sometimes you play teams they like to hold onto the puck, they like to make some plays - and [Chicago] is the team, they like to hold onto the puck, make something happen," David Krejci had said on Thursday morning, prior to the matchup.
"So it's a good challenge for our team, and we have to learn how to play against teams like that."
For the Bruins, that means forcing their own game on the opponent. Whichever team does that the best, usually pulls away the winner.
But once they started controlling the puck, and battling, the game began going more in their favor.
"I think that for the most part, if we move our feet and we are ahead of the puck, I think we do make good decisions," said Chara.
"We've just got to do all those three things in the game - moving our feet and being above the puck; always communicating and being aware of what’s going; and react and support each other. If we do that, then I think we are on the right track."
"Every shift is important. You can’t really sit back or take a breather because obviously they’re going to turn it up against you," said Bergeron, who now has six goals in his past five games and has scored first for the Bruins in each of those five games.
With Boston's third period confidence, though, they didn't allow Chicago to turn it on.
"We just keep working 60 minutes in all games," said Carl Soderberg, who couldn't really explain the team's third period prowess, in which they own a plus-47 goal differential. "And if you want to play in the third period, you should win, too."
"I’ve play against them a lot over the last few years; they’re a tough team to come back on once they get one," said Blackhawks forward Kris Versteeg. "Especially in this building, they get really energized and we just couldn’t find much out there they did a great job."
"I think the biggest thing is, you never want to play on your heels," added Julien. "A lot of teams, and this team here in the past many years ago, was a team that kind of was always afraid to lose and would sit back and would let teams come at them in the third period."
"So, we like to play on our toes versus on our heels and I think just going after teams and the fact that we seem to have lots of energy and seem to be fresh in the third period – it just seems to be working out well for us."
The Bruins haven't lost in regulation since March 1, simply because they haven't wanted to, and they've committed to that.
"Everybody has to be on the same page and we have been," said Johnny Boychuk. "It’s not just one guy; it’s everybody raising their game."