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March 21, 2014 | 12:48pm ET
Bruins getting defensive about streak
By Shawn Hutcheon, TheFourthPeriod.com

BOSTON, MA -- After recently defeating the New Jersey Devils 4-2 in the Garden State, the Boston Bruins departed New Jersey with a 10 game win streak. Since the Olympic break, Boston is 10-1-1 and perhaps even more impressive is its 21-5-3 record since Jan. 1.

During that stretch, Boston has scored 106 goals and allowed 61 goals against for an average of 3.6 goals for per game and 2.10 goals against per game.

The offensive outburst has seen Jarome Iginla, Brad Marchand, Milan Lucic, and Patrice Bergeron eclipse the 20 goal mark for the season.

David Krejci has passed the 60 point mark. Linemates Iginla and Lucic have passed 50 points while the team’s “second line” of Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Reilly Smith are within striking distance of 50 points each.

Defensemen Zdeno Chara has lit the lamp 16 times and rookie blueliner Torey Krug’s 14 goals have surpassed Bobby Orr’s record of 13 goals

Impressive offensive numbers for the NHL’s number one team in the east but perhaps a number mentioned earlier is even more impressive. The 61 goals against since the new year.

Boston is a team that, to a man, prides itself on the belief that good offense is the result of good defense. The players believe in Coach Claude Julien’s defensive systems.

Bruins forward Chris Kelly explained why his teammates have bought into Julien’s strategies.

“I think that’s the major thing, is to buy in,” Kelly said. “The minute you walk through that (dressing room) door regardless of who you are or what credentials you bring, you’re playing for the Boston Bruins. You’re playing our system, our way, and in the past, it’s brought us success so you either buy in or you don’t play here and I think it’s a privilege to be a Bruin and we’ve got guys here that could easily be up there in leading scorers but they buy in. They play all three zones and they play in three zones extremely well and it means more that the team wins more hockey games than individual statistical success.”

When you take a glance at the league’s overall statistics, it is easy to see that Kelly’s words are backed up by his club. The Bruins are second in the league in goals against (149) and third in goals for (224). Put those stats together and Boston leads the NHL with a plus-74 goal differential.

Boston goaltender Chad Johnson, who has spent time playing against the Bruins, explains that his team’s success is built on its desire to compete night after night.

“It’s our competitiveness,” said Johnson. “I think we’re relentless on the puck and no matter what the score is, we’re dangerous. We don’t give up. Being on the other side (with New York Rangers and Phoenix), I know this team is going to bring its best. It’s always a big game for the Bruins opponents for that reason. Teams bring their best against us. It’s fun to be a part of it.”

Other players from around the league agree with Johnson.

“This team (Boston) never gives up. It doesn’t matter what’s going on,” Washington’s Alex Ovechkin answered when asked why the Bruins are one of the elite teams in the league.

Chris Kreider of the New York Rangers recently commented, “(Boston) is a team that, because of their style, they’re hard to play against.”

Minnesota Wild forward Kyle Brodziak added, “They’re a very solid team. Structurally, they play extremely well, and obviously they have a lot of talent and a lot of size. Yeah, that’s a really good hockey team.”

Some around Beantown are questioning whether the black and gold have peaked while others are wondering if Julien’s squad will grow complacent.

The answer is, if you really feel that way, then you have not been paying close attention to this team.

The Bruins are playing their best hockey of the season but believe they can play better.

To illustrate this belief, the coaching staff is going with different defense pairings on a nightly basis, for the most part. Some of this is due to injuries but overall, it is doing so in order to find the combinations that will be the most effective in the postseason. The organization traded for Andrej Meszaros from Philadelphia and claimed Corey Potter off waivers from Edmonton to shore up the defense corp. Meszaros has performed quite well and is a +6 in his first five games as a Bruin. Potter has appeared in one contest for Boston and played a simple and solid game.

The atmosphere in the dressing room is one of confidence without cockiness. Once a game ends, the squad begins to prepare for the next one. The team enjoys winning and will work to continue the streak but it works harder to improve and perfect the systems because it is the systems that brings about winning and winning is the only thing that matters to the Boston Bruins.

Shawn Hutcheon is the Boston Correspondent for The Fourth Period.


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