By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
BOSTON -- Each year that Claude Julien has been at the helm of the Bruins, he's taken on a team improvement project with the Bs.
One year its turning up the pressure on the forecheck. Another year its improving the breakouts to gather speed through the neutral zone.
With so many key players remaining in Boston year in and year out, the Bruins have become accustomed to Juliens offensive and defensive systems. The familiarity allows the coaching staff to get deeper into the details of the game.
This season, the Bruins coach has determined that tightening the gaps between the defenseman and forwards is an area that needs to be addressed.
Tightening up the gap control can slow down the opposition's attack with diligent back-checking, and it also allows the defense group to get much more involved with the offensive attack. The Bs D-men actually did a nice job with their gaps during the playoff run, and could continue improving the attack with offensive defensemen like Joe Corvo and Steve Kampfer expected to log minutes for a more mobile group of blueliners this season.
Were adding a little bit every day and -- the first day was a little bit about -- we want our D to have a tighter gap this year, so we did a lot of drills with that, said Julien speaking about the practice process through the first few days. With the back pressure and backcheck . . . was a little bit more on our transition game and the attack. Were kind of touching up a little bit.
Every year, no matter what happens, you always look for certain things to get a little bit better. The defensemen gaps are an area we identified. It wasnt a major issue, but its an area that we can get better at. Sometimes our D is working up the ice a little harder, and they work up a little harder and are able to support the attack. If they work a little harder and get up the ice then they can also have a tighter gap. Our Ds can get that confidence if our third man is high and they can back-check properly and at least give them some confidence to stand up a little bit more to the blue line.
Its not an area that anybody is going to point to as the reason the Bruins have a successful season if it comes down that way, but its that attention to detail that has helped the Bs become a winner over the last five years.