Bruins quick-strike offense stunning opponents

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Bruins quick-strike offense stunning opponents

BOSTON -- The Bruins made a name for themselves last season with scoring depth among their forwards, and routinely overwhelmed opponents with the sheer volume of their relentless and variedattack.

The Bs breadth of scoring manifested itself on numerous occasions with quick-strike attacks: theywould score multiple goals within a minute or twoof each other and demoralize an opponent with the ultimate momentum-builder ina two-pronged attack that's nearly impossible to counteract.

Three times the Bruins potted goals within a minute of another score in the resounding win over the Leafs last weekend, and the lightning-in-a-bottle Bs once again scored twice within a minutes time against the thunderstruck Islanders in their 5-2 win at the Garden.

Its part of an offensive renaissance thats seen the Bruins pot 18 goals in the first three games in November after they managed toscrap together only22 goals in the 10 games during a fitful month of October.

Nathan Horton and Tyler Seguin notched goals within 29 seconds of each other in the first period to hand the Islanders an initial gut punch in the first 20 minutes. That 1-2 combination chased Isles goalie Evgeni Nabokov out of the game with the final strike from Bergeron-to-Seguin. Then Milan Lucic and Horton teamed up again within 49 seconds in the third period to pile on insurance goals to a slim one-goal lead heading out ofa second periodthat featured some offensive frustration in a scoreless 20 minutes with 16 shots on goal.

Therapid fire goals areactually part of a quick-strike philosophy employed bythe Bruins that Claude Julien and his coaching staff preach to their players. It's also a game-changing philosophy they used to big advantage in winning the Stanley Cuplast season. The Bruins basically target the beginnings and endings of periods along with the first shift after a goal is scored by either teamas major momentum shifters during a game. It's apoint of emphasis for the players, and it was plain to see on Monday night how disorienting it was to an Islanders team frantically searching for a foothold.

I think a big thing if you look at it whether its a goal that we score or the other team that next shift is always big. For whatever reason the last couple of games its almost like we score a goal, and we dont get too high and we go right back to work, said Lucic. We go right back in the offensive zone and try to create that chance we just had. "Its really been working for us. We cant lose that. Its a mindset, and its a mindset we cant overlook. The best way to put it is that weve really learned as a team not to get too high or low about things, and thats why we can get right back to work and get that next goal.

A website called The Checking Line compiled the NHLs best defenders against quick-strikes last season, and described them as: allowing a goal in the first 1:30 of a period and allowing a goal before either team scores in 2:30 following the goal. The Bruins actually allowed the fewest of those goals (36) in the NHL last season en route to the Stanley Cup, and it appears their attention to quick strike detail is once again working in their favor. Whether it was defending quick strikes or inflicting them as a damaging body shot to their opposition, the Bruins have been in control of the hockey phenomenon over the last two seasons.

When we score a goal, we seem to come back the next shift and weve always emphasized how important that shift following the goal for or against. Our guys just have been good at responding when they go back, and they get off to a real good shift, said Claude Julien. In Toronto, same thing we scored a couple of quick goals. Tonight, was the same thing against the Islanders. Its just paying attention to little details and what every part of the game means to your hockey club. Our guys are just responding to all of that right now.

The modest three-game winning streak in Novemberisa good sign for the Bruins this hockey team is beginning to take on some of the personality of last years special bunch: the return of the quick strike attack is proof positive of it.

WATCH: Celtics vs. Magic

WATCH: Celtics vs. Magic

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Celtics-Magic preview: Orlando's poor offense gives C's chance to bounce back

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Celtics-Magic preview: Orlando's poor offense gives C's chance to bounce back

Talk about your basketball extremes.

After losing a 107-106 heartbreaker to Houston and their high-powered offense on Monday, the Boston Celtics will be in for a very different -- and less successful -- foe tonight in the Orlando Magic.

The Magic beat Washington 124-116 on Tuesday night despite John Wall’s 52-point effort, but have been one of the NBA’s most offensively challenged teams this season.

Orlando ranks near the bottom in scoring (29th, 94.6 points per game), field goal percentage (28th, .426) and Pace (24th, 96.71) this season.

But Frank Vogel’s crew has been a defensive force thus far in the East even if their record might suggest otherwise.

They rank among the league’s best in several defensive categories such as scoring defense (4th, 98.0 points per game allowed); opponent 3-point percentage (3rd, 33.0 percent), opponent 3-point attempts (4th, 23.6) in addition to allowing a league-low 8.0 made 3's per game.

That will be a stark contrast from the let-it-fly-all-night style Boston had to contend with against the high-scoring Rockets on Monday.

But this set of games is exactly why Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge made of point of trying to put together a roster that was heavy on athleticism and versatility both in the frontcourt as well as on the perimeter.

Against Houston, Tyler Zeller recorded his first DNP-CD (Did not play -- coaches decision) of the season which made sense considering Houston basically plays void of a traditional center.

Orlando, that’s a different story.

Serge Ibaka, Bismack Biyombo and Nikola Vucevic now coming off the bench form a physical triumvirate of big men that can cause lots of problems for a Celtics team that will look to attack the paint often.

When it comes to scoring in the restricted area, the Magic allow opponents to shoot 57.6 percent which ranks seventh in the league. They rank highly when it comes to defending mid-range shots (5-10th, 38.3 percent), corner 3's (6th, 34.5 percent) and above-the-break 3's (8th, 33.8 percent) as well.

And while they have had their issues offensively this season, their recent run of success has been in part aided by a much-improved offensive showing. In their last five games, they are shooting 48.5 percent from the field which ranks fifth in the NBA in that span. For the season, the Magic rank 28th while connecting on 42.6 percent of their shots.

Orlando’s improved shooting with a defense that’s stingy as ever, will make this a tough game for Boston to come away with a victory.

Just as the Magic seek to continue their successful ways, the Celtics come into this game with something to prove as well.

While the missed lay-ups by Al Horford and Isaiah Thomas in the final minute of Monday’s 107-106 loss certainly were factors in the game’s outcome, there were a series of miscommunications earlier in the quarter that fueled Houston’s late surge.

Following the game, Isaiah Thomas pointed out how he called out a play that Jonas Jerebko interpreted as another play the Celtics called.

The miscommunication led to a turnover and subsequent lay-up which in hindsight looms huge considering the margin of victory was just one point.

“The two play calls sound alike,” Thomas told reporters afterwards. “In the heat of battle, I have to do a better job of making sure everybody knows what play we’re running. He (Jerebko) handed the ball back to me when the play wasn’t to hand the ball back to me. That was one of the turnovers that was the key.

Thomas added, “It’s not his fault. As a group, as a point guard, I have to do a better job of letting my guys know what play we’re running. Those little things, especially on the road, those make you lose games. But that wasn’t the play that made us lose. I’m not putting this on Jonas at all.”

Indeed, this team’s success as well as their struggles are the collective efforts of all their core players, Thomas included.

And for them to get back on track, it won’t be one or two players that will make it happen.

It’ll be a team effort, the kind that will allow Boston to find success against different teams no matter how extremely different their styles of play may be.