Bruins' defensemen contributing offensively
January, 21, 2012
By James Murphy | ESPNBoston.com
BOSTON -- On a day when the Rangers' strong team defense and goaltender Henrik Lundqvist were stifling the Bruins, it was the Bruins defense that picked up the slack offensively, with goals from Andrew Ference and Adam McQuaid. Throughout the game and even in the Bruins' 4-1 win over the Devils on Thursday -- when Ference scored -- the Bruins' blue line was playing a more active role in creating offensive chances.
Coach Claude Julien said after the Bruins' 3-2 OT loss Saturday that's generally the plan against stingy teams like the Devils and Rangers.
"I think we needed our D to do a really good job tonight. Defensively, they've been playing pretty well. They've been stifling some teams, and we needed them to support the attack," Julien said. "We needed them to move the puck well through the neutral zone and get it in, and they did a great job at that. I think our guys did a great job at forechecking, and when we got the puck back there, [there] was times in the game [that] we spent some good portion of the clock in their own end, and I thought we were doing a great job. They got caught out there a couple times tired, and we just kept going at them. But again, it was about finding a way to score that goal, and in the third period, we came out looking for that but didn't get it."
McQuaid -- who is normally a stay-at-home defenseman -- knows that defensemen need to pick their spots when jumping into a play in the offensive zone or else the consequences can cost you a goal or win.
"Yeah, we are always wanting to five-man-attack it and get the D up as much as we can," McQuaid said. "I think every team likes to do that, but at the same time, you got to be careful. You've got to watch who you're out there against. Some guys like to try and sneak in behind, and when there's a turnover, they're quickly back the other way. So, you kind of have to pick your spots when you can get up in the rush and make sure they are the right times."
Ference said the Bruins' blue-line corps has done a solid job of developing the right timing in joining the offensive attack.
"I think over the last couple of years there's been more of a focus and it's not even necessarily being a goal scorer but just to open up lanes and be an option," Ference said. "It helps our forwards rather than them just being on their own all the time. I think a lot of teams try to do it and we try to do it the right way. There's kind of a happy medium of recklessly jumping up every time and also remembering that we're defensemen. I think we do a fairly good job of it. Over the last couple of years we've incorporated it a lot more into our game."