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Bruins Going on the Attack

Defense corps chips in en route to 3-2 win over New Jersey

by Caryn Switaj @NHLBruins / BostonBruins.com

BOSTON - There'a an area of the ice that the Bruins like to call the "fun zone."

 

"Anytime you're playing in the offensive zone, we call it the 'fun zone,' so anytime you're there, it's a lot more fun," Torey Krug has said. 

 

Brandon Carlo entered it on Saturday night, en route to a 3-2 Bruins win over the New Jersey Devils at TD Garden. 

 

Patrice Bergeron had carried the puck into the zone before his pass was broken up. Once Carlo saw the puck sitting there for the taking, he wheeled over the blueline into the offensive zone, shielded the puck away from the New Jersey defenders and sent a backhander past Cory Schneider's blocker. 

The goal gave the Bruins a 2-1 lead with 1:35 to go in the second period.

 

"I was following the play up a little bit, and the puck popped out in the right area for me, and I saw the opportunity," said Carlo. "My mouth was drooling a little bit when I saw the puck sitting there, and luckily I got it and it went in, and things went the right way."

 

Video: NJD@BOS: Carlo backhand goes in off defender's stick

 

It was a huge goal, considering the momentum swings the Bruins had experienced earlier in the period, with having new acquisition Drew Stafford's goal called back for goaltender interference, and the Devils scoring on a breakaway to tie the game at 1-1.  

 

An excited bench welcomed Carlo through the fist bump line after scoring his sixth NHL goal, and his first at TD Garden. 

 

"It's been awesome. Up and down the defensive corps, everybody's been a part of it, and it's pretty impressive," said Carlo. 

 

With Interim Head Coach Bruce Cassidy at the helm, the back end has been given more freedom to attack. 

 

"It's exciting for us to get up behind the play and make more plays for ourselves, and I feel like it's bringing extra confidence to us and the entire team," said Carlo. 

 

The Bruins are now 8-2-0 in their last 10 games, having bounced back from a 2-1 loss to the New York Rangers in their previous outing on Thursday night. 

 

Through those 10 games, a defenseman has notched at least a point in all of them. Nine goals have been scored from the back end, along with 16 assists for 25 points. 

 

Prior to the past 10 games, the Bruins' blueline had posted 16 total goals through the first 55 games of the season. 

 

"[For the] D corps in general, you want to get offense from the back end, and good teams do that," said Krug, who notched the game's first goal on the power play at 7:06 into the first period. 

 

After Bergeron sent an attempt towards the net, David Pastrnak pushed the rebound up to Krug, who stepped into one from inside the right circle.  

 

Video: NJD@BOS: Krug drills a slapper past Schneider for PPG

 

"We've been on a little bit of a roll here lately," said Krug. "And we want to help contribute to the team wins, and when we do that, I think it obviously bumps up our scoring, because our forwards feel less pressure, and they can go and play and just do the things that they do," said Krug. 

 

The Bruins had ample time on the power play Saturday night with five opportunities, and that plays into Krug's offensive capabilities - with 6:52 of his team-leading 23:17 in ice time against New Jersey. 

 

While it comes naturally to Krug, the fearless nature of stepping up into the play has impacted the entire group. 

 

Krug's usual defense partner, Adam McQuaid, is not particularly known for his offensive instincts like No. 47, but he's picked up a goal and three assists through the 10 games. On Saturday night, he picked his pockets and jumped into the 'fun zone' when he saw his opportunities. 

 

"I think right now, everyone's reading off that first guy. If that first guy is aggressive and assertive, then everything else falls into place," said Krug. "There's no second-guessing out there."

 

"There's going to be times where you make mistakes and you make the wrong read. But, if we're going hard and we're playing confident, I think the second and third layers will be there to back you up."

 

The 50-50, risk-reward, aggressive style of play leads to numbers on the board - and it can also to lead to mistakes. 

 

"I made one tonight, where it kind of changed the tide of the game," Krug admitted. "It's a 1-0 game, we were on the power play, and they go down and score, so I think it's just realizing that mistakes will come, especially we have some younger guys back there, and just bouncing back from there, and just continuing to look forward."

 

On New Jersey's second goal, a right point shot from Carlo was blocked, and the Devils sped the other way 2-on-1 and tied the game at 2-2 in the third period.

 

"I think in that scenario, a safe play is not a bad play at all - we're up by a goal in the third, and it could definitely could have gone a bit more smoothly," Carlo said. 

 

On the Bruins' go-ahead goal - and eventual game-winner - at 8:18 into the third period, they got some help from their back end. 

 

Colin Miller doesn't get a point on the score sheet, but he joined the rush with the line of Stafford, Frank Vatrano and Ryan Spooner, opened himself for a possible shot, and then was available down by the left circle to keep the puck in play and wrap it down the left boards to Vatrano behind the net. Carlo covered for him inside the blueline.

 

From there, Vatrano won a battle down low, and whipped the puck up to Stafford, who sent it backdoor for Spooner to put home and make it a 3-2 game. 

 

Video: NJD@BOS: Spooner scores go-ahead goal in 200th game

 

On Saturday night, the help from the blueline on the offensive side was fairly simple - Krug did what he does best, Carlo had a good gap up ice, and Miller joined the rush. 

 

What's happening now is that those are types of plays are becoming more instinctual for the entire group. As a result, the forwards know they'll be getting more support in the offensive zone, and the defensemen know they'll be getting more support back up the ice when a play doesn't unfold. 

 

"Offensively, they're doing what they've been asked or within the parameters of our team allowed," Cassidy said of the D-men. "We want them supporting the rush."

 

Cassidy and the coaching staff had to push the defensemen to be more aggressive. 

 

"Yes, but they're not reluctant now," Cassidy said. "Listen, every player, whether you're a defensive defenseman, at some point probably was a kid growing up that scored or created some offense in juniors and sometimes you have to change roles, so I think they enjoy it."

 

"We build it into our practice and I think that's where it starts," said Cassidy. "If you build it into your practice, it becomes a habit and then you reinforce it during games whether it's verbally or during games and then when the game comes, you want them to make the right decisions and be there and have the energy to do it. I think our conditioning showed; we played at a pretty good pace from start to finish."

 

The Bruins will get in another practice on Sunday, before heading to Ottawa to face the Senators on Monday night, and then returning home for two games. 

 

With 17 games to go in the season, it will be important to keep up their high pace - an implementation that has already paid dividends. 

 

"Overall, I think we have way more good than harm in those situations [with defensemen attacking] - at least from what I've seen," said Cassidy. "So we're going to continue with it, because I think it makes you a tougher team to defend if you're doing it within reason."

 

Video: Krug speaks after Bruins 3-2 win over Devils

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