Bruins’ efficient transition game pays dividends

Brad Marchand keeps the puck just out of reach of New York’s Derek Dorsett in Game 2.
Elise Amendola/Associated Press
Brad Marchand keeps the puck just out of reach of New York’s Derek Dorsett in Game 2.

The Bruins do not have natural speed. They must generate their wheels through center ice to enter the offensive zone at full pace.

In Game 2, center ice was theirs. On four of their five goals, the Bruins gained clean entry into the offensive zone. All because of how efficiently they applied themselves before they got there.

The work started in the defensive zone. The Bruins’ philosophy is to transition rapidly after making a defensive stop.


“Our offense has always come from good defense,” said coach Claude Julien. “We turn pucks over, and then we go back on the attack.”

Get Breaking Sports Alerts in your inbox:
Be the first to know the latest sports news as it happens.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

It has been especially effective against the Rangers, who have been swarming with a three-man wave of bodies instead of leaving one back in coverage. Once the Bruins gained possession, they didn’t have to wade through layers of defensive protection.

That’s because the defensemen have been quick to shuttle pucks and people out of their zone.

“I thought our transition game has been better,” Julien said. “The young guys have been doing that. But so have our veterans that were in the lineup the last couple games. That’s been pretty consistent from our back end, so that’s helped a lot.”

At the same time, the forwards have backchecked aggressively, which has served two purposes. They’ve helped on defense to steer the New York puck carriers into coverage. Also, because they’ve backtracked aggressively, they’ve given themselves more space once they’ve turned the other way to spin their skates.


So far, the Rangers haven’t had any solutions to slowing down the Bruins’ attack. In Game 3, adjustments could include reuniting Ryan McDonagh with Dan Girardi on the top defensive pairing, and keeping a forward high in the offensive zone to fend off the Bruins’ speed.

A careless period

The Rangers had some of their best chances of the series in the second period of Game 2. They took advantage of the Bruins’ careless play with the puck to get good looks on Tuukka Rask.

Early in the period, David Krejci coughed up the puck to Rick Nash in the Boston zone. Rask had to flash out a pad to boot away Nash’s shot.

Late in the second, Johnny Boychuk’s clearing pass went to the Rangers. Rask bailed out his teammate again, this time by foiling Carl Hagelin.

“We’ve just got to put the puck in deep,” Patrice Bergeron said. “When in doubt, I think it’s always the safe play. We’ve got to make sure that we realize to take care of the blue lines on both sides. Especially against a team like the Rangers.


“We know they have the offense to hurt us if we do turn it over too many times. It’s about getting the puck in deep and working down there. We have the bodies to do the job.”

Strategic change

New York coach John Tortorella will have the last change at Madison Square Garden in Games 3 and 4, but he is not as concerned with matching lines as Toronto’s Randy Carlyle was in the first round.

In the defensive zone, the Bruins will have to send out their top two defensive pairings for faceoffs more regularly than they did at home. For example, if the Rangers rolled out their third line of Taylor Pyatt, Brian Boyle, and Derek Dorsett for a draw in the Boston zone, the Bruins could counter with their third duo of Torey Krug and Adam McQuaid.

Julien will be hesitant to send out his third pair for a D-zone draw because Tortorella could counter with Nash, his top-line right wing.

“It’s always easier when you’re at home,” said Julien of sending out his young defensemen for D-zone faceoffs. “You get the last change, you’re able to put them in the right situations. It may be a little tougher on the road.”

In a good place

The lines should remain the same for the Bruins in Game 3. Jaromir Jagr will stay on the second line with Bergeron and Brad Marchand. Tyler Seguin will be the third-line right wing with Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly. Julien didn’t have any issues with Seguin in Game 2. “I have no complaints with Tyler’s game,” Julien said. “I thought he played extremely hard. I think he’s coming around. Maybe it’s a good thing he’s on that line — take a little bit of pressure off the guy and let him work his way out of it.” . . . Kaspars Daugavins, Jay Pandolfo, Carl Soderberg, and Aaron Johnson should be the healthy scratches.

Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at