USATSI_7291786_160885884_lowres

Bright Light Fright: The Boston Bruins Blue Line

Thar be monsters here.

While we highlighted the Kings unpleasant nature on defense, the Bruins bring that and more. This is a group of men who look like they belong in a bar brawl somewhere and try to turn their zone into one. But they also come with some of the warts that the Kings had as well, just not as large.

There’s no point in going any further without talking about the 6-9-sized problem on the top pairing, and that’s Zdeno Chara. This could be the biggest difference (ha ha) between what the Hawks just saw and what they’re about to see. While the Kings’ #1 d-man Drew Doughty is a great player, he can be erratic and wild and reckless at times. The Hawks got to take advantage of that. They will get no such breaks with Chara on the ice.

Ryan Lambert covered this excellently today on Puck Daddy, and I don’t know that I can add much more. While Chara doesn’t pile up as many points as some of the other defenders in the league, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t dominate pretty much every game he’s involved in. He comes with a nasty streak as well, and with that size it’s a horribly frightening package.

While Chara isn’t a burner, considering how big he is he’s a pretty good skater. The thing is he doesn’t have to skate all that well, because his reach pretty much takes up half the rink when he’s standing still. You can’t beat him to the outside, and he can keep you from doing that without losing position to the middle.

What we should keep an eye on is that Chara usually plays on the right side, his offside. However, it hasn’t been unusual for him to flip to the left side with Seidenberg going to his offside if the occasion calls for it. With Patrick Kane and Chara’s Olympic teammate Hossa coming down the Bruins left, we might see this. Julien also tries very hard to get Chara out against whatever is deemed the most dangerous threat, even on the road. Don’t be surprised to see someone hustling off the ice at the UC after a draw to get Chara out against Toews and Kane if that’s what Julien wants.

And then of course there’s the issue of his Boomstick of a shot, which someone is going to have to step in front of at some point. Have fun with that.

Seidenberg usually partners Chara, and I can’t really get a handle on him. Does he benefit from playing with one of the best around or does he help Chara become that? He’s a good skater with nifty hands, but let’s just say I’d like to see what he comes up with when the Hawks target him. Obviously, he has the best safety net around.

The Bruins second pair features Andrew Ference and Johnny Boychuk, and to me a lot of the series will be determined on whether the Hawks can get at these guys. Chara can’t play both of the top lines, which means Hossa and Sharp will likely see a lot of them. There’s not a nastier pair to play against, as both have the snarl of Killion’s dog upon seeing another dog. However, they don’t move all that well, just as the Kings second pairing didn’t either. Hossa and Sharp especially can get on these guys before they’ve made a pass and cause some turnovers, and they might struggle to catch up. They’re positionally sound, and turn the are in front of Tuuke Nuke ‘Em into a Slayer mosh pit. Whatever rebounds are lying around are going to be hard to get to, and will exact quite a price. But it needs to be done, especially if the Hawks can get them scrambling a bit and out of position. But the B’s forwards do an excellent job of helping out, letting all their d-men sag into the slot to close off shooting lanes.

Rounding out the B’s blue line is Adam McQuaid and Torey Krug. They’re pretty sheltered, as they’ll hover around 10 minutes per game. McQuaid is another behemoth who plays as if he just saw someone grab his sister’s ass, but also isn’t the swiftest of skaters.

Krug has been the playoff surprise. He only had three regular season games to his name before he poured in the goals against the Rangers. This is where all the speed from the blue line the B’s get comes from. However, Krug is still only 5-9 (maybe) and playing in only his 13th game total in the NHL come Wednesday. I’m sure Q is going to target him at home as much as he can, hopefully with Bickell or Hossa or even Saad who can all maul him a bit. It’s the only chance they’ll get to do so.

It’s an imposing outfit, and one that nullified the Penguins’ arsenal hardcore. However, the Penguins have never needed much of an excuse to lose their shit, and once Bergeron took Crosby out of it, Malkin pretty much quit and Iginla looked as old as people feared he might as well as Neal looking pretty confused. The Hawks scoring depth is a little more sure. Essentially, the Hawks will either expose the lack of mobility from Ference and Boychuk and McQuaid, or they will lose this series. Because it’s highly unlikely they’re going to be able to scratch out much against Chara with Bergeron in front of him.

  • Country_Bumpkin

    “McQuaid is another behemoth who plays as if he just saw someone grab his sister’s ass…”

    Fucking priceless, but not as good as the, “as big as a soda pop machine and plays like a grizzly bear on angel dust…”

  • Accipiter

    With the Bruins Dmen having produced 15 goals so far in this years playoffs (that is 16 games for the B’s), the Hawks are going to have to be aware of the point men.

  • Z-man19

    We could see Bollig in this series, who Q drops is anyone’s guess (Stals or Bolly). God I hope I’m wrong

    • Why

      Let’s see. I’m enjoying the previews here but this is hockey, not football. The matchups are going to evolve as the series progresses. It might be that they have to adjust to the Hawk’s speed. I think Ferrence and Boychuk are going to have a tough time keeping up.

  • Preacher

    And just like that, Sam puts me into complete panic mode.

    • Accipiter

      Have a V8.

      • mad-hatter

        Is that a brand of Vodka?

        • Accipiter

          No, but you could make a bloody Mary or something similar if you had vodka.

          • DesertHawk

            Or you could just drink the vodka. /not a fan of tomato juice

          • mad-hatter

            I’m going to drink the vodka.

          • http://www.thecommittedindian.com/ PowrFwd37

            Try the Kool-Aide… It is delicious this time of year.

          • Accipiter

            Obviously.

    • Sparky_The_Bard-barian

      You’re just now panicking? You, sir, are a fucking ice cube. I was panicking during game 4 of the Minny series…..

      • Preacher

        Yeah, no. I’m actually always pretty panicky. My wife thought she’d have to call the paramedics during the game 7 Walkom episode. And then again when we actually DID win the thing!
        I was just feeling good about the Hawks’ chances, but now Sam has put all the fear back inside me that I had before the Kings series. And just when I was calming down.

        • Country_Bumpkin

          I admit I panicked my ass off Saturday night after the Kings tied it up, but I now feel as if the Hawks HAVE to win. There is no other outcome. They’ve played through adversity in the playoffs and have answered the bell every time. Game 7 vs. Detroit, winning on the road in LA and coming back from a late tie to force overtime and then win just shows how goddamn good this team is.
          In reality this doesn’t mean shit, but I will still believe until a champion is crowned.

        • Sparky_The_Bard-barian

          There is no calming down until someone has a parade.

  • Ingmar Bergman

    Sam really delivers a great scouting report. This is going to be a tough series and Game 1 will set the tone.

  • Nineteen88

    AHHHHHHHHHHHHH PANIC TIME

  • Bobby Otter

    Someone out east, maybe Driving play?, has brought up Chara losing a step and that it is starting to become an issue. Of course, as pointed out, his size makes up for a lot of this… I have no clue how true this is either. But something to watch considering the Hawks speed.

    • http://twitter.com/Bobby_Otter Bobby Otter

      Found it:

      Chara’s lack of speed is starting to become and issue. He’s been unimpressive these playoffs.— Driving Play (@DrivingPlay) May 24, 2013

  • Mike

    I’m a Bruins fan scouting out the opposition here. What I can tell you is that this is an excellent scouting report. Going to be an excellent series.

    • DJ

      Thanks for the input. Good to see you and your excellent team in the Finals.

      • JB

        *in my best Keanu Reeves voice* …EXCELLENT!!

  • Jim

    The Bruins are not invincible, Toronto won 3 games and scored 4 goals in game 7.

    How did they do it?

    • Accipiter

      Team speed and rebounds.

    • jackattack

      Speed, crisp passing out of their zone and lots of shots on goal.

      … Wait. Aren’t we really good at those things?

      • Jim

        There’s our formula. If those guys are smart they’ll adopt the Babcock/Zetterberg strategy of clutch and grab to slow things down, Scary thing is Boston, unlike the last two opponents has an offense.

        • Why

          I don’t think Detroit’s scorers get nearly enough credit, especially when they’re attacking with speed. Datsyuk was a fucking terror in that series (how many posts did he hit?). Abdelkader and Nyquist can fly and created some problems. In the cycle game, though, they didn’t really accomplish much.

          You’re right about L.A., though. With Richards and Kopitar both banged up, the only really scary scorer they had was Carter (Williams, too, if you’re feeling charitable).

          Clutch and grab is tough to play, though, with the Bruins team speed (especially for their big line).

          • High and Wide

            And Williams had a separated shoulder all through the WCF.

        • jackattack

          Boston won’t be able to get away with it like Detroit.

        • Sparky_The_Bard-barian

          That offense looks scarier against a Gwens team that was as mesmerized by the puck as a kitten is by the red dot.

    • Sparky_The_Bard-barian

      This. The same Bruins team that swept the Gwens needed a miracle to to escape the first round against the Leafs. If we can play our game, we’re good. They’re not nearly as scary at home as LA, but better on the road. Take care of home ice….

      • http://www.lotsofbutterplease.com/ I am not Chico Maki

        Am I missing something? I think I’ve seen “Gwens” a couple other times. I don’t know what it means.

        (Also, agreed on other things and Jim’s things.)

        • Accipiter

          Penguins.

          • http://www.lotsofbutterplease.com/ I am not Chico Maki

            Ha! I knew that much. Is it just the always-popular girlifying of the name?

          • steeg of their own

            Sigh, yeah. I favor Pens for that reason.

  • Fleshrifle

    How healthy are the Bruins? I think a big part of the success against the Kings was health. Dustin Brown had a torn PCL? Richards etc. Campbell is out of the Bruins but how healthy are they? The Hawks seem relatively well.

    • Mike

      We’re fine other than Campbell breaking his leg. Campbell is a great center on the PK but Bergeron and Kelly can plug that gap. Campbell is also a gritty fourth line type of guy but Daugavins will fill in well for him.

      • Z-man19

        The report below about Chara losing a step, any concern there for the Bruins or bs?

      • Black JEM

        The advantage is that it will force Bergeron to play maybe a few more minutes – that could mean something at the end, but probably not that big of deal.

  • ahnfire

    since we’re all stressed out, I found something on tumblr to give us a laugh.

    http://24.media.tumblr.com/717b4d2302a5ec24fb7f68d3f3d67940/tumblr_mnn8xinmxM1r76g3io1_400.gif

    • http://www.lotsofbutterplease.com/ I am not Chico Maki

      that’s great … good timing

    • Ingmar Bergman

      Hilarious. The person who created this deserves an Academy Award.

      For some reason I’m not that stressed out by this series. The pressure is off the Hawks right now. They were supposed to pummel Minny, embarrass Detroit, and ravage LA. They, somehow, got through it.

      Many critics see Boston as the favorite here. The burden is off the Hawks and they can play more freely now without the prospect of “choking” into oblivion. It’s a great thing to get pressure off your back.

      • Sparky_The_Bard-barian

        I don’t know about the ravaging LA part, about half the prognosticators I read had LA winning, and none of those picking the Hawks had it as a short series.

      • bizarrohairhelmet

        sure. why not. they gave one to marissa tomei. pretty much no need to continue the respectability facade after that. lets give one to internet gif guy.

        • Accipiter

          The film ‘My Cousin Vinny’, was excellent.

          • bizarrohairhelmet

            I am a huge fan of Marissa’s ….uh….assets. One of her assets is not her acting ability.

    • VerStig

      PURE. GENIUS.

      ahahahaha that trombone….

    • JoeGrant

      Phenomenally phunny! Thanks for sharing. Too good.

    • Country_Bumpkin

      That…is…awesome.

    • High and Wide

      I think this has made the entire pre-Wednesday chunk of my week.

  • http://www.lotsofbutterplease.com/ I am not Chico Maki

    Speaking of which, that Gonchar contract was fucking bonkers.

    • Fleshrifle

      Someone trying to get the floor it seems like.

      • Why

        Same strategy they tried last year and I don’t think they’re worried about the floor. They sign veterans to overpriced, short term contracts. Keep cap flexibility long term while trying to improve the team in the short term. If things go south as a team, the short length of the contracts might make these guys attractive to teams needing a rental at the deadline. It worked (to an extant) with Whitney and Jagr. Roy was problematic.

        EDIT: It also might be an attempt to get Goligoski going again.

      • http://www.lotsofbutterplease.com/ I am not Chico Maki

        They were at the floor even without Gonch. They were at 45 mil or so, and 44 is the floor. This was pure want … or something.

  • robondacob

    Did Chara steal his Boomstick from Ash?

    http://youtu.be/a5iTpleCndo?t=20s

    • Sparky_The_Bard-barian

      NO ONE steals Ash’s boomstick. You will get Ash’s boomstick when you pry it from his cold dead hands…. except for that cold dead hand he left in that cabin, it has nothing to do with the boomstick.

  • Ingmar Bergman

    I don’t like Rask and I have to admit this was one of the funniest plays I’ve ever seen by a goal tender. Folks, he’s not invincible.

    http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=672035

    Remember, the Toronto Maple Leafs pushed this dope to the edge.

    • Sparky_The_Bard-barian

      As the wings and one zebra did to us.

      • DesertHawk

        Are the wings and maple leafs at the same level?

  • Skags

    I can’t shake the 4-0 shalacking the Bruins threw down last year out of my head. I’m thinking we’re going to need a Herculean effort from our captain. Not unlike the game 7 shorty he basically willed into the back of the net from his knees.

    If we come out on top it’ll be battered and bruised, having earned it.

    In many ways, Wednesday can’t come soon enough, but I also think this little lull before the storm should be relished. A true contrast of styles is about to place ts stamp on hockey. Wow! What an honor this is. These are the good old days.

    • DJ

      What 4-0 shellacking last year? Against us? Last year, the one and only game went to a shoot out.

      http://gapersblock.com/tailgate/2013/06/blackhawks-and-bruins-for-the-cup.php

    • Waylon

      are you thinking of the game two seasons ago, the one in Boston? If so, the Hawks were tired, battered and bruised at that point in the season, and had lost one third of their team during the off – season. Meanwhile, BOS was on their way to winning the cup that year. No contrast is possible in that regard.

  • ballyb11
    • Z-man19

      Are you worryd?

      • ballyb11

        Of course,…………

        but fuck these experts and the Bruins.

        • ballyb11

          Gotta be East Coast bias. Or maybe the East is that much better than the West.

          Regardless, I’m taking the Hawks.

        • Z-man19

          All is well then. How many of those people watch a lot of hockey, let alone the western conf? I’m sure Boston beating the Pens the way they did made a lot of folks think Boston was the shit.

      • Sparky_The_Bard-barian

        Because it’s the cup. I start worrying in October and don’t stop until…. well, ever…

    • cliffkoroll

      Damn. I really thought the Hawks had a shot.

      Oh well, maybe next year.

      • ballyb11

        Some day you might understand the finer points of the game.

        • cliffkoroll

          Heh.

          I love that this gets two upboats from the furtive lemmings.

          Edit: Damn, I’ma get on board and upboat that myself.

          • bizarrohairhelmet

            when life gives you lemmings, make lemmingade.

            Edit: I drank the lemmingade as can be seen by the additional up boat.

          • ballyb11

            Not ba.

            Not A+, but not bad.

          • cliffkoroll

            et tu, lemmé?

      • Waylon

        if they only had Keenan.

    • DesertHawk

      It’s a list of people, whose opinions I should never trust… how handy.

      • Why

        Yep. The ESPN experts, on aggregate, picked the Kings over the Hawks and the Bruins over the Pens. Not a single one of the experts predicted that either conference final would be less than 6 games. We’re all just guessing until the games start.

        Oh well, I suppose if the boys are going to show up and play the game anyway, we can probably be bothered to watch it.

        • bizarrohairhelmet

          Wait. Are you saying nobody can accurately foretell the future?

          • 1benmenno

            I can predict you saying something snarky.

          • 1benmenno

            I can also retrodict it.

          • bizarrohairhelmet

            I think I might have Mexican food for lunch.

    • cliffkoroll

      summarizing this thread:

      1. ballyb does deadpan
      2. crowd flummoxed

      • Z-man19

        I don’t get it

      • ballyb11

        Deadpan???

        Is that one of those rock bands that the editors are always subtly referencing?

        • 1benmenno

          No, you’re thinking of Flummoxed Crowded House

          • ballyb11

            Obviously my next guess.

  • ballyb11

    Vegas odds

    Team Odds
    Chicago Blackhawks 5/8

    Boston Bruins 8/5

    • ballyb11

      I’ll take these experts over ESPN’s experts.

      • zacked

        Yeah, all the odds I’ve seen have the Hawks as heavy favorites, as in win in 5 or 6. All the people making picks are being blinded by one series. I’d personally put money on it going 7.

        • 2883

          Sort AlphabeticallySort By Odds
          4 Games Blackhawks Win
          +800

          4 Games Bruins Win
          +1000

          5 Games Blackhawks Win
          +400

          5 Games Bruins Win
          +600

          6 Games Blackhawks Win
          +450

          6 Games Bruins Win
          +400

          7 Games Blackhawks Win
          +350

          7 Games Bruins Win

        • Country_Bumpkin

          So even though the Hawks have home ice, won the PT and were the #1 team in the league and play in the Western Conference, this doesn’t matter because Boston.

          Go fuck ya selves!

          /Bill Burr’d

        • http://twitter.com/Bobby_Otter Bobby Otter

          Also, those ESPN splits seem to be “writers who covered the West” and “writers who cover the East or live in the East”. Lots of bias/selection bias methinks.

    • 2883

      The Vegas odds have closed considerably

  • http://www.lotsofbutterplease.com/ I am not Chico Maki

    I hate hockeybuzz, and I hate the Senators, so it pains me a little to link this, but it’s a good, balanced stats-minded review of the Cup:

    http://www.hockeybuzz.com/blog/Travis-Yost/Chicago-is-Not-Pittsburgh/134/52024#.UbcafJz3Pdw

    • bizarrohairhelmet

      Even a rusty squirrel is blinded by the time twice a day.

      • 1benmenno

        Personal experience?

        • bizarrohairhelmet

          oh, there are ways to get a rusty squirrel, believe me. i can get you a rusty squirrel…WITH polish.

    • Z-man19

      Solid read

    • Accipiter

      I give you my boat.

    • Hags

      good stuff, good to know there’s people outside of TCI that realize the Blackhawks are not the same team as the Penguins.

  • BigCSouthside

    Cant believe Im saying this, but excellent Yahoo comment

    “Blackhawks get outhit all the time. Doesn’t stop them.”

    • Preacher

      The fact that you read the Yahoo comments is highly disturbing.

      • Waylon

        those are almost as bad as the TSN commentary.

  • JB

    Maybe we should just score more than Boston does…in every game.

    • Preacher

      “At this time, Timmy, I want you to knock down all the pins.”
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y5fm7QPA9zY

      • Waylon

        I love Jim Gaffigan.

        • cliffkoroll

          me too

    • Country_Bumpkin

      Because the team with the most points at the end of the game wins.

      /Lou Pinnella’d

      • Preacher

        I thought it was hits.
        And Mike Keenan.

        • Country_Bumpkin

          No actually the amount of fights your team gets into to “spark something or provide energy” usually wins games.

      • Waylon

        and walks just clog up the basepaths.

        (Dusty Baker’d)

  • 1benmenno

    There is nothing to fear but Mike Keenan.

    • Z-man19

      And Billy Baroo

      • Preacher

        BLou?

      • 1benmenno

        And nihilists mit ferrets.

        /you haven’t seen Die Grossen Lebowski yet, have you?

        • Z-man19

          Nein

          • 1benmenno

            Du bist ein Tijuanan Esel, Dumpkopf.

          • Z-man19

            BITE ME

          • cliffkoroll

            Shut the fuck up Donny!

          • Accipiter

            This will not stand, ya know, this aggression will not stand, man.

          • Waylon

            well you know, that’s, just like your opinion, man.

      • roadhog

        And fuckin’ Quintana … that creep can roll, man.

  • Steve S

    The key is to go hard to the puck, play between the dots, stay out of the box, win in the corners, stand up sit down fight fight fight.

  • putmeinthemadhouse

    Byfuglien weighed in at a mere 302 lbs at the end of the season. Holy. Shit.

    • BigCSouthside

      If you are a goaltender and you see that coming in to crash the net, do you just shit your pants and curl up into the fetal position?

      • Waylon

        Not likely, because Buff is mostly out of breath by the time he gets to the goal mouth. I watched a CBC broadcast of a Jets tilt awhile ago, and even the Jets announcers were oh – so – gingerly discussing Buff’s general lack of conditioning, and how he couldn’t stay on the ice for more than half a shift sometimes, and that he couldn’t even be an effective two – way player if he didn’t at least try to get some weight off.

    • Paul the Fossil

      Maybe, but on the other hand if you’re a quick forward with the puck on your stick and the D-man backing up in front of you is carrying the spare tire from a Mack truck? The Jets’ goalie better be ready.

      Not to mention a $5.75M cap hit with the cap coming down…Buff has his moments and he was fun to have around here for a while but I’m glad he is some other GM’s problem now.

      • Paul the Fossil

        Feh that was supposed to be a response to BigC’s comment.

    • Hags

      holy shit your kidding right? is there a link out there to this somewhere?

    • MySpoonIsTooBig

      To be fair that’s according to a hockeybuzz writer, so I’m not all that sure how much stock to put into it…

      • http://www.lotsofbutterplease.com/ I am not Chico Maki

        I agree … Buff skated 24:30 mins a game. If he were truly 300+ there’s no way he could skate that much. Doofishness.

  • 1benmenno

    You know why I’m not worried? Drugs.

    • MySpoonIsTooBig

      Drugs are always the answer, except for when the answer is violence. Well, sometimes when the answer is violence the answer is also drugs, but that’s a different story

  • http://www.lotsofbutterplease.com/ I am not Chico Maki

    Puck Daddy’s got the Pittsburgh eulogy up, and it’s one of the worst ones I’ve read so far. That’s all … lunchtime.

    • BigCSouthside

      yeah its bad

  • laaarmer

    I think they should attack Chara for the entire series. Toews will not care at all. Neither will Hossa. Make the Yogis pick their poison, like Pronger had to.

    It gonna be a quick series..

    • laaarmer

      Toews Hossa Saad
      Sharp Kane Bickell

      • Preacher

        But what about Bollig? And Carcillo? You said, “Attack Chara.” You can’t attack him without these guys. Can you?

        • laaarmer

          I did not say hit. I said attack. Make him play hockey at a fast pace. Attack.

          • Accipiter

            Swarm, swarm.

        • Steve S

          Bollig has one role……..”Hey Chara! Chara! Chara – Suzanne sucks pussy! she’s a dyke! I know, I know! She’s a lesbian, a lesbian, a lesbian!

      • putmeinthemadhouse

        i think the lines as they are would be okay. not even going to go ahead and even put the idea in my head that kane or sharp will center the second line because its not going to happen.

        • laaarmer

          I think the real issue is who will Bregeronski play against

      • Accipiter

        Tuesday’s Practice Lines
        Forwards:
        Sharp-Toews-Hossa
        Bickell-Handzus-Kane
        Saad-Bolland-Shaw
        Bollig-Kruger-Frolik

        • laaarmer

          Worky for me
          Bollig – Thornton bout?

        • High and Wide

          I really don’t like the idea of Kane being back with Zus :(

    • Waylon

      My inner meathead thinks that Bickell has to continue his excellent play, and going into the corners to punish their D – Men is a great way to start. On second thought, I think my meathead is correct in this one.

    • BigCSouthside

      Didnt even think about that in comparison to Pronger. Good point

  • Hags

    Q is not really thinking about rolling out Brandon Bleepin’ Bollig is he? He’s just trolling everybody to see their reaction right? RIGHT??

    • Black JEM

      He has been consistent with the white jersey. Stals has one on.

  • Preacher

    And now we’re really cooked. Greg Wyshynski (Puck Daddy) picks Bruins in 6. With this and most of the ESPN crew picking Boston, why even play the games?

  • 2883

    it’s not good that my level anxiety the day before the game is like a 7 out of 10 is it?

    • Accipiter

      Good for your health ? Probably not.

      On a positive note, it won’t have any bearing on the outcome of the series.

  • Pingback: Sean McIndoe: The Stanley Cup Final in Matchups Grantland Archives: Our coverage of the 2013 NHL postseason: Nothing Better | SPORTS RSS NEWSSPORTS RSS NEWS