The Boston Bruins know what it takes to win in the Stanley Cup playoffs. They know that at or near the top of the long list of recipes for postseason success is balanced scoring.
They’ve received plenty of that in their most recent first-round series games.
The Bruins took a 2-1 series lead Tuesday night when they wrestled back home-ice advantage with a 3-0 win over the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena. Boston again was air-tight defensively and got more than enough offensive contribution from some seemingly unlikely sources.
The B’s essentially won the game in the first period. That’s where a red-hot start came to a head when Dougie Hamilton went coast to coast to score a gorgeous power-play goal. Just under seven minutes later, Jordan Caron scored his first career postseason goal to give the B’s a 2-0 lead they didn’t relinquish.
The two early goals were important because they were able to take away any sort of jolt the Red Wings might have received from the home crowd. The 20,066 in attendance were silenced by the Bruins’ two first-period goals, only to come alive again as the horn sounded and a chorus of boos rained down from the fans.
The goals also provided the Bruins with that all-important balanced scoring depth. The Red Wings have done a great job of taking away chances for the Bruins’ top two lines. Not counting Patrice Bergeron’s empty-net goal late in Game 3, Boston has received only one even-strength goal out of its top six forwards in the first three games of the series.
Both clubs have made a concentrated effort to shut down each other’s top forwards, plans that have been well-constructed and well-executed so far. That means the difference should be secondary scoring, which the Bruins hold the advantage in right now. In Game 2, it was Justin Florek who was the unlikely goal-scorer, and in Game 3, it was Caron and Hamilton.
“When you look at the scoring sheet, I think the top lines on both teams are checking each other very well,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said in his postgame news conference. “There doesn’t seem to be a lot of space there. It just goes to show you how good they are as two-way players. In order to get through this, sometimes you need secondary scoring. That was a big part of our win (Tuesday).”
Balanced scoring is nothing new for the Bruins, though. The ability to call on all four lines has been a staple in the Julien era. Few teams have third and fourth lines that match up with Boston’s, and the Bruins take advantage of that in the regular season when they’re able to wear down clubs. That depth is an asset in the playoffs, too. Just look back at Boston’s Stanley Cup run in 2011, when the bottom six forwards and defense corps scored 31 goals on the way to the title.
“You expect that in the playoffs you need all four lines to contribute,” Brad Marchand told reporters following Game 3. “That’s why we’ve been so good all year. We have four good lines, and every night, a different line steps up and contributes. … We’re going to need that to continue as long as we’re in the playoffs, and that’s worked so far.”
The Red Wings must find some sort of solution. Their top lines have been silenced and haven’t received any sort of secondary scoring, either. If they don’t match the Bruins in at least one of those areas, this series will be over very, very soon.