BOSTON — While the Bruins would obviously rather solve their problem than wallow in misery with others, it might help the Black and Gold to know Anaheim has struggled just as much as Boston in the early going of games this season.
The Bruins reversed that trend Saturday night in their win over Washington, but the Ducks failed to start out differently en route to a loss to Carolina that same night. Tonight at TD Garden both clubs will try to make the first period their period when they collide for the first time this season.
Anaheim practiced yesterday in an effort to fine tune their game and avoid an early hold tonight. As Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register writes:
The Ducks were sluggish in Washington but trailed by only a goal after one period and came back to win in overtime. However, they couldn’t recover from a 3-0 first-period deficit against the New York Islanders and then were put in a first-period hole by Carolina captain Eric Staal’s natural hat trick.
Carlyle said the slow starts are a result of not being mentally prepared. Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf agreed.
“We’ve got to be prepared right from the get go and be alive in our locker room going on onto the ice,” Getzlaf said. “It’s a tough thing to ask at times. The group we have is a little bit quieter than normal. We’ve got to find a way to motivate before we go out on the ice. Guys have got to take that responsibility.”
It’s easier for the Ducks to be mentally prepared when their mega-line of Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan sets the tone. That means Boston’s test tonight is to slow down one of the league’s best lines, probably by matching up the line Patrice Bergeron, Mark Recchi and Blake Wheeler against the Ducks trio. Bergeron’s line was so effective defensively against the Capitals’ line of Alexander Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Knuble Saturday night that head coach Bruce Boudreau had to shuffle his lineup.
The approach against Getzlaf’s line will probably be the same as it was against Ovechkin’s line.
“If you play with the puck in the offensive zone, then they really can’t score from the other end, so that’s your first job, obviously, is to play good defensively,” said Wheeler after the game Saturday night. “When you get it in their zone, be strong on the puck, make strong plays, and more often than not, you’re going to spend a lot of time in there because those guys want to score goals. It’s no fun when you want to score goals and you’re playing in your defensive zone all night.”
Obviously, Zdeno Chara and whoever his D partner of the evening is will also lend a hand against the Ducks’ top threesome.