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09-29-2003, 04:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Jeff from Maine
To me, they had a CLEAR plan of puck movement by the d-men.

It was a personnel recognition philosophy. If Berard or Girard had the puck, the first option was to rush the puck. Any of the others tried to find a forward at a corner of their own blueline. Their main method in this regard was for say O`Donnell to hit Knuble with a pass to the blueline. Knubles first look is to Thornton, who is wheeling near center ice. The rush into the opposing zone is made by the center with an even space wing (Murray, in this case) and a trailing wing (Knuble for my purposes).

When Berard or Girard had the puck and was rushing, what I observed as the most frequent rushing style was this example. Berard rushed up the left side of the ice. The wing on the opposite side of the ice (right) wheels to the middle, with the center wheeling to the right and then following through to the circle or on through to the net, depending on the shakedown. The same side wing takes the trailer role.

In essence, you had a wide rusher in Berard, along with center slot and and right board crashers, in your off wing and center respectively. And the strongside wing drops to trail.

I may be off a bit, but thats pretty close if you ask me.
Excellent summation. This is exactly what I saw. Berard and Girard would carry the puck, or the Bruins would headman it to the guy at the blueline who would often tip on the fly to a guy in motion. This was a huge reason why the Bruins were so successful in their first 30 games. They executed perfectly, and teams were not ready for it. The fact is, the Bruins were keeping the puck out of their end, and largely that was due to the way they were transitioning.

Teams started to adjust in two ways - closing down the passing lane that extended to the man at the blueline, and clogging the middle with a trap. Once the Bruins were stymied, they began to turn the puck over. This was one of the hallmarks of their team - turnovers. Often they were deadly because the Bruins would be moving forward as a 5-man unit and they would have to circle back against their momentum. With second rate goaltending, they were dead in the water.

As far as the Bruins playing the trap, I agree there needs to be committment. Everyone has to execute, which is where the coaching comes in. Sullivan has to exact his plan and translate it to the ice. If he wants 4 guys hanging back as the center pressures the puck as it's being carried out of the offensive zone, then they have to do the same thing on every shift. It has to be across the board. I could see the technique being flexible - ie when it's deep, one forechecker goes in to the hash marks while another one or two presses down below the blueline, but whatever ever the system is, I agree it must be consistent.

I do think the Bruins have enough grit, leadership and committment to execute it effectively, it's just a matter of the fundamental flaws of the roster. If they have little skill and movement on the backline, that will be an issue. Ditto about center, especially if they cannot win enough big draws.

Good stuff. I totally appreciate you analysis Jeff, and think that's one of the best things about this board. The people who know nuts and bolts of hockey make a huge difference here.

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