WILMINGTON, Mass. — If head coach Claude Julien wants his Bruins to knock off the third-seeded Buffalo Sabres in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, he’d be wise to make himself the answer to the age-old question “Who let the dogs out?”
The Sabres ranked 10th in the NHL in offense during the regular season because they go on the attack with at least four skaters every chance they get, especially when rookie Tyler Myers and veteran Henrik Tallinder are on the ice. The Bruins are going to have to slow down those puck-movers with a ferocious forecheck in order to have any chance to advancing beyond the first round.
“Everyone always seems to get into the attack on their team,” said Bruins winger Milan Lucic after practice today at Ristuccia Arena. “That’s how it seems like Lindy (Ruff’s) been coaching for them and it’s worked for them all year long. That’s why they’re so good off the rush and they have a lot of goals off the rush. So definitely that’s what we talk about – you’ve got to win puck races when you do establish a forecheck and make sure you’re not turning it over where they can establish that four-man attack on the rush and get beaten up the ice.”
Julien recently acknowledged his team has been forechecking more aggressively and using two players to forecheck more often. He might even have to have his team turn up the heat more against Buffalo. Myers seemingly has free reign to move up from his D position whenever he wants, and his skating and stick-handling should garner extra attention from the Bruins.
“We all know that we’re a lot better being more aggressive than lying back, so he’s definitely a huge factor in that rush. He’s got tremendous foot speed, and that’s something that obviously we’re aware of,” said Bruins forward Daniel Paille, a teammate briefly of Myers this season. “But obviously we have to be physical and take the body – not just (against) him, but Tallinder, he can carry it as well.”
Julien doesn’t like to tip his hand about strategies during the regular season, let alone at super-secret playoff time. He didn’t want to overlook Buffalo’s strength in goal and on defense, but he did acknowledge that the Bruins’s most urgent task will be slowing down the Buffalo attack on the rush.
“We believe in what we have to do here. We’ve played them well enough this year that we’ve just got to make sure we make some adjustments here and there, and they will too,” said the coach. “But like I said, if we don’t respect their offense and guys going up the ice, we can get ourselves in trouble.”