Julien, Bylsma beg to differ over match game

Julien, Bylsma beg to differ over match game
June 1, 2013, 5:30 pm
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(USA Today Sports Images)

PITTSBURGH – While much of the talk has centered on Claude Julien’s desire to match his defensive stalwarts against Pittsburgh’s best offensive players, it was interesting to hear the contrast between the two head coaches prior to the puck drop for Game 1 on Saturday night at CONSOL Energy Center.

The Bruins coach clearly wants to line Bruins defensemen shutdown pair Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg up against the Evgeni Malkin line with big-bodied James Neal and Jarome Iginla, and toss the Patrice Bergeron line out onto the ice against the Sidney Crosby line in a fantastic head-to-head match of the best player in the world vs. the NHL’s best defensive forward.

Julien wasn’t hiding the fact that strategy is part hockey blueprint and part chess match, but he also knows there will be times, especially on the road, when he won’t always get the matchups he’s looking for. It's often difficult when the Pittsburgh bench gets the last change on their own home ice.

“Match-ups are one thing, but I said that this morning to someone:  I'm not going to get 100 percent of my matchups, and neither is [Penguins coach Dan Bylsma]. That's the thing that you have to accept,” said Julien. “That's when you have to rely on your team and your players to know that they have got to do the job whoever they are out there against.”

That wasn’t always the case throughout the playoffs, especially in the first round where Phil Kessel did some damage vs. Boston when he was able to get away from the long shadow of Zdeno Chara. But Bylsma won’t play the match game as much as Toronto coach Randy Carlyle did in the first round, and it appears he’ll be more content to roll lines and defense pairings. That’s one of the benefits of having a team that boasts a pair of players that have been 30 goal scorers (Jussi Jokinen, Brenden Morrow) on their fourth line.

“There are certainly matchups in this game.  When and how they are going to matchup their defense in Chara against our guys and there's a Seidenberg matchup that we'll have in this game that we'll see play out,” said Bylsma. “More for their team, and the way they are coached. It's more about the defense, the matchups they try to get in the game. They work really hard at it. They are good at it.

“Probably the best, I would say, in the league in getting that defensive match-up; getting that change in the play and getting the people on the ice that they want to in that matchup. We'll see a little bit about that. But it's not the straight matchup type of thing that you see in some series, or in some team versus team.”

One Cup-winning coach that wants to play the match-up game, and another that doesn’t seem to want to have much to do with it. It’s just another major difference between the Bruins and Penguins as they get ready to open up their Eastern Conference Final showdown on Saturday night.