McCarthy: Bruins don't need to alter system
McCarthy played in more than 500 NHL games with the Philadelphia Flyers, Vancouver Canucks and Pittsburgh Penguins, then spent a decade as an assistant and associate coach with the Carolina Hurricanes, where he was a member of the staff that led them to a Stanley Cup championship in 2006. He joined the Flyers as an assistant during the 2009-10 season and stayed in Philadelphia until October 2013.
The Boston Bruins showed everything that makes them the Boston Bruins in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Second Round against the Montreal Canadiens.
Kevin McCarthy said the best part of the Bruins' game is their overload system in the defensive zone, where they put all five of their players on the strong side of the ice in order to outnumber the opposition in puck battles, resulting in pucks heading out of the zone and toward the opposing net more often than not.
"One thing that Boston does so well is there is no excitement in their defensive zone coverage, nobody's running around," McCarthy told NHL.com. "They're so hard to play against because they just keep doing the right things and they don't change, they do it over and over again."
One reason Bruins coach Claude Julien is able to do that is his level of trust in all four of his forward lines. We saw in Game 1 how Canadiens coach Michel Therrien occasionally called players to the bench if he didn't like the matchup, particularly trying to make sure Tomas Plekanec is always facing David Krejci, or at least as much as possible.
Julien, however, doesn't have those same concerns.
"You can tell Claude Julien doesn't care if his fourth line gets caught out there against the first or second line," McCarthy said. "Over the course of a series, that can make a difference."
The Canadiens vow to be better in Game 2, and one way McCarthy thinks they can is not to play into the Bruins strength of defending the middle of the ice. Often times in Game 1, the Canadiens attempted passes into the slot area that were picked off and turned the other way, something McCarthy said they need to stop doing.
"They need offensive-zone time," he said. "To me, they made too many high-risk plays from behind the goal line. Against Boston, there's nothing there, there's nothing in the middle. So you just wind up starting Boston's breakout."
McCarthy said the Canadiens need to reverse the puck more in the Bruins zone from one corner to the other, forcing them to react and adjust their overload system in order to create 1-on-1 battles instead of what is essentially a 3-on-5 battle for the puck on the strong side.
He also said the Canadiens need to use the points more to generate shots instead of looking for openings in the slot that simply aren't there.
-- Arpon Basu
The Bruins remained positive Friday, the day after they outshot the Montreal Canadiens 51-33 but lost Game 1 of the Eastern Conference First Round, 4-3 in double overtime. Game 2 is at TD Garden on Saturday (12:30 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, RDS).
"I thought we had so many chances we could've scored 10 goals [Thursday]," Bruins center David Krejci said about his line after meetings and off-ice workouts at Ristuccia Arena. "But we didn't. So hopefully we are saving them for next game."Krejci and wings Milan Lucic and Jarome Iginla combined for 11 of the 48 shots that Montreal goaltender Carey Price saved; the line attempted 20 shots. Only Lucic had a point (an assist), and two of the Bruins' goals came from defensemen Torey Krug and Johnny Boychuk. Forward Reilly Smith scored the other.
Krejci and his linemates' scoring chances weren't just plentiful. They were the type of chances that make you smack your forehead when they don't turn into a goal. Price made sure to cause some head-slapping with a number of all-world saves, including a stop on a Krejci breakaway near the midway point of the first overtime period.
"I believe if we would be playing against a different goalie I would score half of the goals," Krejci said. "But he's a great goalie, so I have to find a way to beat him."
There were plenty of times Price was let off the hook. Lucic fanned on a one-timer with Price out of position after a cross-ice pass by Krejci in the third period. Krejci hesitated too much and let Price get into his butterfly on a chance in the first period. Early in the second period, Krejci shot wide on a breakaway and later during a power play Iginla missed an open net wide from the left side of the slot.
"Honestly, some days that happens," Iginla said. "We'd love to score on every shot and every chance, but some days they make a great save, or you just miss your spot or you don't elevate it ... we get those same chances and on another night we'd have a bunch [of goals]."
It's easier for Krejci's line to stay positive considering what it accomplished this season. Iginla was tied with center Patrice Bergeron for the Bruins lead in goals (30). Krejci led the team with 69 points (19 goals). Lucic had 24 goals (59 points).
In the Bruins' five-game first-round series against the Detroit Red Wings, Krejci had two assists. Lucic had three goals, Iginla had two (including an overtime winner in Game 4) and the line as a whole was quicker and started to make more plays over the second half of the series. The Bruins can't go deep into the playoffs without contributions from their top three forwards and it'll be up to them to erase Game 1 from their memories. Krejci was still trying to shake off the chills on Friday.
"Obviously it was a tough, tough night. You have all those breakaways in your head and trying to not think about it," Krejci said. "But it's there. So I feel a little better today but it's still frustrating. So have a good sleep tonight and make sure I'm going to put some pucks in the net [Saturday]."
The Canadiens know they have to be better after going ahead in the series. The Bruins can't expect to get 98 shot attempts again regardless of how long Game 2 goes. Fewer scoring chances, however, won't necessarily mean fewer goals if the Bruins can play relaxed and not get psyched out by what transpired in Game 1. The Bruins can't begin to press, and they can't start to see Price as some impenetrable wall.
"Going into next game, I guess the main focus is you don't want to grip your stick too tight, and bury those opportunities when you get them," Lucic said. "It [stinks] losing the way that we did, it was a tough loss to swallow, but you've got to have short-term memory and forget about it as quick as you can and focus on the next one because it's coming soon. We're excited about it."