Friday, May 9, 2014
Bergeron credits clean play for B's stingy D
By Scott Barboza
BOSTON -- Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron saw an improved defensive effort from his teammates, along with a 33-save performance from Tuukka Rask, in their 1-0 overtime win over the Montreal Canadiens in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Part of their success stemmed from one simple mantra: Stay out of the box.
Patrice Bergeron says the Bruins must keeping winning battles while playing within the rules.
The Bruins gave the Canadiens only one power-play opportunity Thursday, putting Montreal's previously prolific man-up unit on ice.
"It was something that we talked about," Bergeron said after Friday's team optional skate at TD Garden, "something that it's always like that, discipline is important this time of the year. But we've done a better job of playing solid within the whistles and the rules. It definitely took away their power-play chances, and that's something we had to do."
That discipline also helped the Bruins win one of the key matchups entering a crucial Game 4: They were finally able to shut down Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban.
Subban enters Friday ranked fourth in NHL postseason points with 11, trailing only Anze Kopitar, Zach Parise and Evgeni Malkin. For the first time in the series, the Bruins neutralized Subban's impact, doing something that hadn't been done since Game 1 of Montreal's first-round series against Tampa Bay -- keeping him off the score sheet.
Aside from not allowing Subban multiple chances to work his magic on the power play, the Bruins also did what was required of them in their opponents' zone and through the neutral zone.
"Our forecheck really set the tone, not only in the way that we moved our feet, but also we won some battles," Bergeron said. "I think that's something we've talked about throughout the series, that we have to win more battles than we lose.
"Earlier on, we were losing too many of them, and [Thursday] we were a little better on that. It definitely created some more opportunities for us, but also on the defensive side, winning the battles, you get out of your zone a lot quicker."
That improved effort on 50-50 pucks paid offensive dividends. It netted the Bruins the game winner in OT as Carl Soderberg crashed the net, poking around at a rebound left at goalie Carey Price's feet and setting up Matt Fraser to swing around the net and knock home the only goal of the game.
"It's playoff hockey, it's tight hockey," Bergeron said. "The chances are slim and you need to make sure you take advantage when you do have them. They're playing some solid defense, as well, so it's about making sure we're playing with more confidence and getting more chances by getting guys around the net and fighting for that loose puck."
While the B's are happy to have won Game 4, their focus is on the next game in a series that's all even.
"It definitely gives you some momentum, to win a game in overtime like that, and tying the series," Bergeron said. "That being said, it's always about the next game and not getting too high or too low. We've talked about it so many times, I think it's the same thing again -- it's all about tomorrow's game now."