Bruins Defensemen Going on the Offensive to Add Another Dimension to Club’s Attack

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January 21, 2012

Bruins Defensemen Going on the Offensive to Add Another Dimension to Club's AttackBOSTON — In the past couple years, the Bruins have given their defensemen more freedom to jump into the attack when opportunities presented themselves.

Those opportunities haven't been too plentiful of late, or at least the results haven't. In the 10 games prior to Saturday's showdown with the Rangers, Boston had scored 39 goals. Just one of those had come from a defenseman, with Andrew Ference ending a nine-game drought for the defense on Thursday in New Jersey.

On Saturday, the defense was even more active in the attack, and contributed both Boston goals as the Bruins salvaged a point in a 3-2 overtime loss to New York.

Ference scored the first goal 3:28 into the second, pulling Boston even at 1-1 as he drove to the net, took a pass from David Krejci in front and lifted a backhander over Henrik Lundqvist.

"I think over the last couple of years it's been more of a focus," Ference said of the defense joining the rush. "It's not even necessarily being the goal scorer, but just open up lanes and be an option. It helps our forwards rather than them being on their own all the time. I think a lot of teams try to do it, and we try to do it the right way. There's kind of a happy medium between recklessly jumping up all the time and also remembering that we're defensemen. I think we do a fairly good job of it. I think over the last couple of years we've incorporated a lot more of it into our game."

The Bruins certainly incorporated it more on Saturday.

Adam McQuaid tied the game again at 2-2 with 49 second left in the middle frame. He too pinched in deep, picked a pass out of midair from Rich Peverley, settled it and fired home a shot from the right faceoff circle.

"It was just opportunities I guess," said McQuaid, who now has two goals on the season. "There were just different times I felt I could get up in the rush. It seems like some games it's there and other games it's not, so it's got to be a read from situation to situation.

"We always want to try to be a five-game attack and get the D up as much as we can," McQuaid added. "I think every team likes to do that. At the same time you have to be careful. You have to watch who you're out there against. Some guys like to sneak in behind you. So you have to pick your spots when you can get in on the rush and make sure they're the right times."

The Bruins now have 20 goals from defensemen this season. Zdeno Chara leads the way with seven, but all six regular blueliners have now scored multiple goals this season, with even stay-at-home types like Ference and McQuaid picking their spots to add depth to the attack.

"I think we needed our D to do a really good job [against the Rangers]," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "Defensively, they've been playing pretty well. They've been stifling a lot of teams. We needed them to support the attack. We needed them to move the puck well through the neutral zone and get it in, and they did a great job at that."

Have a question for Douglas Flynn? Send it to him via Twitter at @douglasflynn or send it here. He will pick a few questions to answer every week for his mailbag.

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