The Boston Bruins closed out Game 4 last night with a 4-0 win to complete the sweep of the Carolina Hurricanes. The story through the first three games was about how the Hurricanes were having trouble protecting the front of their net. I wrote about it here.
In the end, the Bruins scored 12 of their 15 goals in the series, not including empty-netters, from the inner slot. Their first goal in Game 4, which would eventually prove to be the game winner, also came from that area. That’s 80% of their goals in the series which is the fourth highest number in a playoff series over the last three seasons.
The Hurricanes inner slot coverage cost them in the end because after that first goal the Bruins completely locked it down in their defensive zone, only giving up a total of nine shots the rest of the game. The Bruins players put on a defensive zone clinic, forcing the Hurricanes to play along the perimeter and sacrificing their bodies to block any shot attempts. Their 23 blocked shots are the 16th most in a game these playoffs which include over 150 games.
Their attention to defense resulted in a shutout for Tuukka Rask who’s been lights out all playoffs and is getting some serious consideration as the Conn Smythe winner. He was once again on top of his game but the Bruins only gave up a total of six shots from the slot in the game and two from the inner slot. The latter of which is tied for the 3rd fewest in a playoff game this year.
All series long, the Bruins were able to create time and space in front of the Hurricanes net and when the Hurricanes needed it most they could barely get a shop from that area on Rask. The Bruins have an impressive combination of high-end skill and defensive reliability that will be hard to beat in the Stanley Cup Final. Whether it’s the St. Louis Blues or the San Jose Sharks who comes out of the Western Conference, they’ll have their hands full with this Bruins team.
(Photo by David Becker/NHLI via Getty Images)