VANCOUVER – Getting the right line and D-pair matchups on the road is so difficult because of the lack of the second change.
However, the Bruins did a masterful job of making sure Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg were on the ice almost every time Vancouver’s Henrik and Daniel Sedin, and Alex Burrows, were on the ice in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final Wednesday.
Although Boston dropped a 1-0 decision, it’ll have to match that shuffling performance in tonight’s Game 2 at Rogers Arena in order to have any chance at earning a road split.
“That’s why you have to be strong on faceoffs. It always helps when you win faceoffs and go up ice, then we can change,” said Seidenberg . “But if not, we’re comfortable with everybody that’s out there against them, no matter the forwards or Ds. We all know how to play hockey, so it doesn’t matter if there’s a matchup we don’t want.”
Well, it might not matter, but the Bruins rarely had to feel any comfort because they almost never had an unfavorable matchup. With Chara sometimes starting with a different partner just to hedge the Bruins’ bets in case the Sedins’ line came out, and with Boston winning the majority of faceoffs (36-for-64) and also doing a great job dumping the puck to safe areas, the likes of Andrew Ference and Johnny Boychuk – although capable enough – weren’t left to battle the Canucks’ top guns for more than a few seconds.
It almost looked as though the Bruins had specific faceoff plays designed to go on a line change before going on the attack.
“Not really. I think that’s kind of getting too technical, too nit-picky,” said center Chris Kelly. “I think obviously there’s times that you can change, but there’s times you can’t. I think everybody is capable of doing the job that needs to be done.”
Another capable member of the Bruins is assistant coach Doug Houda, who’s responsible for sending the defensemen onto the ice. It can get pretty hectic in a high-paced game against the Canucks, so Houda has to be one heck of an air-traffic controller. The more proficient he is, the less Seidenberg and Chara have to worry and the more they can focus on playing.
“I think [Houda] does a great job of reminding us and being on our toes,” said Seidenberg. “It’s tough to always be able to match lines and be ready when you get out there.”
The Bruins want to be better in a lot of areas in Game 2 than they were in Game 1. If they can duplicate their Game 1 changing ways, that’ll at least keep them in the game.