For additional insight into the Stanley Cup Playoff series between the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens, NHL.com enlisted the help of longtime NHL assistant/associate coach Kevin McCarthy.
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.
BOSTON -- 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.