The Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning will kick off their second playoff series in three seasons Sunday night at 8 PM ET in Toronto. One of the biggest challenges the Bruins will face when they play the Lightning in the Eastern Conference semifinals will be the blazing speed of the Lightning and their ability to burn teams on the rush.
Thankfully for the Bruins, they just finished a series with another one of the NHL’s fastest teams, beating the Carolina Hurricanes in five games. As Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy pointed out, one of the major factors in the Bruins’ success against the Hurricanes was his team’s ability to read the Hurricanes’ rushes before they could utilize that speed to blow through into the offensive zone.
“Probably our rush reads,” Cassidy replied when asked what he and the team were focused on heading into the playoffs and if they accomplished that goal. “We got victimized by Tampa, I think Washington a couple of times we’re giving up the middle of the ice so we talked about we want to make it harder for them to get into the middle of the ice by getting our D a little closer together, not getting as flexed out and then force them to go through us to get to the net. So I thought we did a really good job with that with Carolina.”
Like the Hurricanes, the Lightning love to let their defense get the puck down low and allow their forwards to capitalize on havoc in front of the net. Against the Hurricanes, the Boston Bruins team defense was able to prevent that chaos the Hurricanes were trying to create and control the play in front of the net.
“A lot of their offense came from the point,” Cassidy pointed out. “I know [Joel] Edmundson scored, Dougie Hamilton, [Haydn] Fleury had a couple, so they would get some of those looks, which they do well, but we blocked a lot of their opportunities as well. We didn’t give up much through the middle.
Them losing [Andrei] Svechnikov obviously hurt because he’s one guy that does get into the paint and slot but that’s the area that we controlled. I think we got on the flip side to the front of their net, a lot of our goals were scored with second effort, even the power play in front of the net generating good chances from there. So at the end of the day that was the area that we had to control, we did, and I think that’s why we came out on top