WILMINGTON, Mass. -- Just because the Bruins have scored 34 goals during their current six-game winning streak and are third in the NHL with 3.44 goals per game, don't be fooled into thinking they're abandoning their defensive foundation to become a free-wheeling finesse team.
In the Bruins' eyes, the offensive outburst has come because of their defensive system. Great defense has led to more offense, and the Bruins aren’t about to try anything different.
“We’re all smart enough to know guys are too good in this league, so you can’t take risks and chances or get cute," defenseman Adam McQuaid said. "You've got to play within your system and do what you’re supposed to do.
"I don’t think we’re taking for granted that we’re scoring like we are. I think we’re prepared to win a 1-0 game still. That’s a good way to look at things and right now maybe the goals are coming for us, but there will be a time when we’ll just get the bounces or whatever it might be and we’ll need to win that 2-1 or 1-0 game. So it’s important even though we’re scoring a bunch of goals right now to make sure that we’re strong in our defensive foundation.”
As McQuaid sees it, the Bruins haven’t forgotten what got them to the top and that’s a tight defensive system that can pressure teams into coughing up the puck.
“We’ve done a pretty good job of taking care of our own end,” McQuaid said. “Forwards are coming back and helping and it’s not giving teams as much time and causes turnovers. Then we’re able to go on the attack from that. So it’s certainly nice to have the offensive output we’ve had, but we’re going into each game thinking defense first. But when you get that offensive opportunity, you make something happen.”
As the goals start coming, so can the desire to take bigger risks and perhaps stray from the defense-first system. Yet for the most part, the Bruins have resisted and it’s paying off on the scoreboard.
“We’re never going to be a run-and-gun team, but I think guys are making nice plays and burying their chances,” McQuaid said. “But we’ve been having a lot of odd-man rushes that are caused by good defense and good forecheck the other way. It’s not like we’re as much back and forth as other teams that score a lot. We take care of defense first, play responsible and then take as calculated risks as we can take, creating offense off our defense.”
And in the few times when the Bruins have given in and not applied that defensive pressure, they've recognized it immediately, as they did in Tuesday night's 4-3 victory over New Jersey.
“The one thing is when you’re not scoring much, the smallest mistakes you make could end up in your net and cost you the game,” coach Claude Julien said. “There’s no doubt the confidence -- and we mention that word a lot -- has a big effect in the game, and when guys have the confidence and they execute, they get rewarded and all of a sudden they’re willing to take that other step forward.
"As long as things keep going in the right way, they’re going to keep doing that. But at the same time, there’s also that element of respect and even though we won yesterday, a lot of guys weren’t happy with the way we gave up those goals and that’s a good sign. It could have been avoided and I thought some of the goals they got, we basically gave to them.”