Through three games, the Black & Gold have allowed just two goals, picking up a 4-1 win in Boston before taking Game 3 with the 3-0 shutout on Tuesday.
They've done it by being stingy.
"You have to go into the next game and do the same things you’ve been doing the last couple games. You just have to try to play stingy D and take one game at a time and try to get that next win to go back home," said Johnny Boychuk.
On a morning when Patrice Bergeron was named a finalist for the Frank J. Selke Trophy for the third straight year, the nomination placed emphasis on how the centerman's two-way game filters throughout the entire lineup.
"We've built our team a certain way and we want our players to be good two-way players, and players that can't play a good two-way game don't last very long with us, because that's a big part of our makeup here," said Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien, after his team wrapped up their pregame skate at Joe Louis Arena in advance of Game 4.
"It shows so far in this series. We become stingy, and we have to be stingy against teams that are very good skill-wise and offensively."
"[Our team has] committed because they believe in it. They’ve seen the results and we’ve got a good group right now that believes in the structure and what we expect out of our team."
The Bruins' blueline and their last line of defense - Tuukka Rask - are stingy. But the Bruins' forwards are, too.
"I think you can definitely see our forwards are working a lot harder and the backpressure they have is definitely helping us out a lot," remarked Dougie Hamilton, who has said that it's nice to be a defenseman, with forwards like Loui Eriksson, Patrice Bergeron and, frankly, the entire group up front.
"I think, with their team, they want to stop up and make plays and cut to the middle and with our backpressure, it’s limiting them a lot. So I think it just helps the D out a lot when the forwards are skating and coming back hard and working hard."
It's second-nature for them.
"It’s up to us to continue to to work hard without the puck," said Julien. "We’ve done a great job of backchecking. We’ve done a good job of having numbers coming back and that’s been a big help."
"Defensive game is not just about the goaltender and the defense. Defense is about a five man or six man unit out there, and I think our forwards have done a good job of coming back and helping and I think we’ve got to continue to do that because, as I mentioned at the start of the series, they’ve got some guys that can score some goals if you give them time and space."
Zetterberg Likely to Make Return for Wings
One of those guys is Pavel Datsyuk. Another is Detroit's Captain Henrik Zetterberg. It hasn't been confirmed that he's making his return yet, but the forward was ruled by Mike Babcock as a game-time decision. He's been out since the Olympics (back).
"He’s definitely a great player," said Bergeron. "That being said, it doesn’t change our game plan. We respect the Red Wings as they are. They’re a great team offensively. They have a lot of firepower and he’s definitely an addition to that, so we have to make sure we keep playing that team game, that defensively, that we're communicating well."
"We can't just worry about one player," said Julien. "In my mind, he's going to be there tonight. We expected that, so that's not a concern. I think the biggest thing here is they've got another good player on their team, but at the same time, every playoff game has to be about your team. It can't be about the other team."
"We make adjustments to play against the other team, not the other individual, so that's not going to change for us."
Bruins Expecting Push-Back
The Red Wings are down 2-1 in the series, with a chance to even it up in their own building, among their fans, with the possible emotional boost of Zetterberg back in the lineup.
"It’s going to be a big one tonight here and we definitely need to come out hard," said Loui Eriksson. "We know they’re kind of disappointed from the last game, and we need to do the same kind of work and try to out-skate them and play good defensively and score on the opportunities we get. I think if we do that tonight, we’ll be in good shape."
The challenge will be in out-working a Wings team that will have more urgency in their game.
"We’re expecting that. It’s the nature of the beast. It’s a best-of-7. You always try to push back and we’re trying to do the same thing," said Bergeron. "Every team’s trying to improve and it’s going to be the same thing tonight. It’s all about that one game. It’s about not getting too high or too low in the playoffs and same thing applies today."
"As you move on in a playoff series you want to get better and better, and that’s what the goal is going into Game 4," said Milan Lucic. "We know they’re going to be better and come out with a bang and try to get more offense than they’ve had int he first three games, but for us, we still feel like we can get better as well and that’s what our main focus is moving forward."
Paille Cleared to Practice, But Remains Out of Lineup
Daniel Paille took part in the team's pregame skate at Joe Louis Arena, but will not be in the lineup. It marked his second straight day on the ice, after wearing a green no-contact jersey during Wednesday's optional skate. He's been skating off and on since the morning of Game 1.
"He's cleared to practice with us here and I think he's cleared to start getting a little bit of contact," said Julien. "Not in tonight, but he's inching towards the right side, I would say."
Bergeron Named Selke Finalist
To no surprise, Patrice Bergeron was named one of three finalists for the 2014 Frank J. Selke Trophy, awarded annually "to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game.” The other finalists are Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks and Anze Kopitar of the Los Angeles Kings.
"It's definitely a huge honor. I mean, it goes to the help of all of my teammates, definitely," said Bergeron, following pregame skate. "There’s no individual awards that don’t go without the help of all your teammates."
"So that's all I can really say," he smiled. "I have other things on my mind right now, which is the playoffs."
"He makes you proud, because he's well-deserving of that, he has been for years now," Julien said, of the nomination. "Always up there in the plus-minus, always plays against top players, produces - he's got 30 goals this year and that's playing against top lines - so I can't find a better candidate than him, and certainly deserves the nomination."
"In our regards, he's been the best."
Boston's Projected Lineup: Game 4
Milan Lucic - David Krejci - Jarome Iginla
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Reilly Smith
Justin Florek - Carl Soderberg - Loui Eriksson
Jordan Caron - Gregory Campbell - Shawn Thornton
Zdeno Chara - Dougie Hamilton
Matt Bartkowski - Johnny Boychuk
Torey Krug - Kevan Miller
Starter: Tuukka Rask // Backup: Chad Johnson