Bruins quick-strike offense stunning opponents


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.

Pedroia returns to lineup as Sox look to extend winning streak to six

Pedroia returns to lineup as Sox look to extend winning streak to six

After leaving Thursday night's game in the fifth inning and missing Friday night's game, Dustin Pedroia is back in the Red Sox lineup Saturday as they look to extend their winning streak to six in a 4:05 game against the Seattle Mariners.

Pedroia felt pain his left knee Thursday night and was taken out of the game by manager John Farrell as a precaution. The rainy conditions and wet field were also factors in keeping the second baseman out Thursday and Friday. 

Pedroia (.288, two homers, 21 RBI) had surgery on the knee in October. It's the same leg that was hurt when Manny Machado slid into Pedroia at second base in April, the slide that sparked various confrontations between the Orioles and Red Sox.

Left-hander Brian Johnson (1-0, 7.20 ERA) was called up from Triple-A Pawtucket to make his second start of the season for Boston and right-handed reliever Ben Taylor was optioned to the PawSox. Right-hander Rob Whalen, 23,  comes up from Triple-A Tacoma to make his first start of the season for the Mariners. 

The lineups:

Jean Segura SS
Danny Valencia 1B
Robinson Canó 2B
Nelson Cruz DH
Kyle Seager 3B
Taylor Motter LF
Guillermo Heredia RF
Mike Zunino C
Jarrod Dyson CF
Rob Whalen RHP

Mookie Betts RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
Andrew Benintendi LF
Hanley Ramirez DH
Mitch Moreland 1B
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Sandy Leon C
Deven Marrero 3B
Brian Johnson LHP