- James Murphy, Bruins reporter, ESPNBoston.com
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WILMINGTON, Mass -- The Boston Bruins pride themselves on defense and converting defense into offense. Regardless of whom they play, they do their best to maintain that approach and not let the opponent dictate their style.
As far as Bruins head coach Claude Julien is concerned, that philosophy shouldn't change against the high-powered Penguins in the Eastern Conference finals. In fact, he said it's imperative the Bruins don't change, or else the lethal Penguins offense will make Boston pay.
"The one thing I would say about Pittsburgh is the skill level, it's so deep," Julien said. "We know that the Rangers didn't score that easily. We shut down a few players and it took a lot of their scoring away. With Pittsburgh, you've got to shut down more than a few players. ... I'm going to say even more than three and four. They come in bunches. I think that's the respect that you have to have for that team, knowing that every time you're on the ice, you don't think it's going to be an easy shift. If you don't pay attention to your game defensively, it's going to end up costing you, but if you do, you may end up in some good offensive opportunities. I've said all along, we thrive, our offense thrives on how good a defense we play. When we turn pucks over [from defense to offense], that's when we become dangerous."
At times during the Rangers series, the Bruins did veer away from their game, especially in Boston's 4-3 overtime loss in Game 4. Whether it was getting a little cute with the puck or just trying to push the offense without making sure the defensive game was taken care of, Julien believes his team is on the right path overall and doing well to minimize turnovers.
"In Game 4, I thought that was one of the reasons we lost that game, puck management," Julien acknowledged. "We didn't play as well. There's some games where there's going to be a little bit, but overall I think we've been a lot more careful and smart with our decision-making. We're making less mistakes and I think that's what you've got to do here moving forward. Every little mistake can become a big issue down the road."
Julien also believes this Eastern Conference finals series will be decided in the neutral zone and the Bruins forecheck will need to be at its best. While some may believe playing keep-away with the puck is key, Julien views puck possession a bit differently, and as he pointed out, so do the Penguins.
"Puck possession doesn't mean you hold onto the puck, there's times when you're going to have to put it in areas where you can get it back," Julien said. "If you consider that puck possession, I'll agree with you, but if you just mean holding onto the puck and not letting it go, that's not our game. They don't play that game either on a lot of occasions, they're in the neutral zone and all they'll do is find an open guy and all he does is dump it in and they forecheck us. Their game, in that regard is a lot like ours. We base it a lot on the forecheck. But if you give them room in the neutral zone, they've got players that can make things happen. We're going to have to be good in all areas."