Grindin’ Gears: Where The Defense Needs A GPS Because They’re Lost

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Grindin' Gears is a segment I started when Justin, Jon and Robb asked me to write for DOY. It was merely a weekly thing where I could rant and rave about the Bruins and whatever happened throughout those seven days. It was well received and has remained a staple throughout the three years I've been here. If you're new to the segment, it's an unedited, uncensored look into my brain when it comes to the black and gold and sometimes the NHL in general. 

I think I'm finally over last night's loss. In fact, I was pretty much over the loss when the horn sounded to end the game. What can you do? The "vaunted" Bruins defense looked like gar-bitch and it's not the first time they've left Tuukka Rask out to dry like he's a bedsheet. Remember the second game versus the New York Rangers

The Bruins defense was all over the place and not in the good way either. They were lost, making tons of mistakes and left Tuukka Rask to fend for himself. Rask was able to make some unbelievable saves against the Rangers, but faced too many 2-on-1s or breakaways and can't stop everything that comes his way. Here's a screen shot of Gaborik's first goal: 

gabbygoal

Chara was burnt by Gaborik coming down the right side of the ice. He had no idea he was there. Boychuk had no idea that Chara was going to be above the faceoff dot and not in his position, so he took the man with the puck and Nash hit a wide open Gaborik, who waiting for Tuukka to make a move and scored. 

After the jump, the rest of the shitty defense…

This will certainly become a trend in the first 7 games this season. Look at Pyatt's goal in the same game: 

Pyatt

McQuaid is up by the dot because Thornton was unable to get the puck out of the zone. However, the problem is there are three white shirts around two blue ones. Pyatt is able to drift behind McQuaid (shocking) and puts Aaron Johnson the lone defender between two Rangers. Paille is crashing for support, but it's too late. 

Look at the overtime goal against the Rangers: 

OT1

Ference coughs up the puck on a pretty simple pass and Gaborik splits him and Boychuk for a breakaway. 

OT2

Gaborik roasts Ference and Boychuk has no real shot of stopping him. Tuukka amazingly saves the puck, but Gaborik uses some nifty hand/eye coordination and bats the puck in on a "rebound".

There's three fuck ups from the Bruins defense that cost them 3 goals, but they still came away with a point so we said "Hey, it's okay for one game!" We figured that the Bruins were on a roll and collecting points, plus they just played one of the best top lines the NHL so it's okay. Then the Islanders came to town: 

Aucoin1

The two defensemen are downlow to play the puck. Chris Bourque has no idea what the fuck is going on or where he needs to go, so he just skates to the closest white shirt near him, despite the puck being behind the net at this point. Rich Peverley is doing his job and Chris Kelly is just there. What's that leave? A wide-open space for Keith Aucoin to set up shop, order a pizza, design some custom jewelry to sell on Facebook and this: 

Aucoin2

Kelly and Bourque are out of position (shocking) and Aucoin drives the net for a pretty easy goal. Luckily, the Bruins offense bails out their shitty attempts at defense and the Bruins come away with a win so once again, no one notices how bad their defense actually is. Instead Tuukka Rask is amazing and makes pretty saves. 

The same shit happened in Carolina. Jeff Skinner, take it away: 

Skinner1

Skinner gets the puck, catches Ference flat-footed (a new trend) and has options. He can take it to the net or based on what the other defenseman does can pass it off to the two guys who are about the crash the net while the Merlot Line orders popcorn. 

skinner2

Defenseman does the right thing and takes away the other two options, but Skinner has a wide open shot at the net. Ference is literally hanging on for dear life as Skinner scores. Pathetic. Then again, Boston scored two goals with under two minutes left in the third period so we didn't talk about how bad the defense was. We talked about Jeff Skinner being a slew-footing piece of shit, Patrice Bergeron throing fists or the Bruins scoring two power play goals in one game (RIGHT?!). If the team is winning, no one cares about the defense. 

Thankfully they righted the ship in New Jersey and played lock down defense, which can sometimes make for a boring game. This is what happens when you play a team who has a defense just as good as yors. The Bruins pulled out a 2-1 shootout win and the defense was good. 

Then came Buffalo. 

And oh jesus did they come (at the thought of John Scott). 

But seriously. We had a good time with the Buffalo fans. We like to make fun of them and we like to mention Ryan Miller being a complete turd in net. I don't want to toot my own horn, but I said Vanek is a Bruins' killer. 

And then Thomas Vanek went out and did Thomas Vanek things like he always does against the Bruins. Let's look at Vanek's first goal: 

Vanek1-1

It all begins with Chara making a terrible decision to try and enter the Sabres offensive zone with three forwards around him. What's the point of doing this? A turnover will only put more pressure on the defensive guy who is doing his job. Also, what's Krejci doing? Watching. One forward is looking to enter the zone and the closest forward to center ice should be covering Chara's position. 

Vanek1-2

Oops, Chara coughs up the puck and now there's a 2-on-1 for Buffalo. I think that's Horton motoring up center ice, but there's no way he can catch up with them. Once again Chara leaves Johnny Boychuk on an island. Boychuk makes the stupid mistake of playing the guy with the puck and not the guy streaking down the left side of the ice and it leads too…

Vanek 1-3

Vanek sniping one past Rask. In situations like this, I thought it was taught that the goalie worries about the guy with the puck and the defenseman worries about the guy who will make the goalie move laterally, but what do I know? 

Then Vanek decided to share the wealth and get Tyler Ennis involved and guess what? Ennis was wide open. Vanek makes an unreal pass with Ference throwing him to the ice and Ennis just has to put it on net. Rask has no shot because no one is paying attention to anything other than the puck. 

Ennis

Ennis

Fast forward to the third period and Boston has choked away a 3-1 lead (we'll get to this a little later). Boston is scrambling and Vanek is fucking flying around like he drank four Red Bulls and a pound of cocaine. 

Boychuk tries to hit Vanek off of the puck, but instead Vanek tells Boychuk to go fuck off and burns past him, leaving Vanek and Hodgson 2-on-1 with Chara. 

codygoal 1

cody2

With Chara 2-on-1 and those two schulbs recovering from another botched play, Hodgson skates down the left side of the ice alone. Chara does his best to cut off the puck by "sliding" but Hodgson has a wide open net. 

Hodgson

I'm going to post the last Vanek goal for funsies, because the whole thing is a mess. 

And generally, that's how the Bruins defense has been playing this season. We've witnessed flashes of brillance by Dougie Hamilton, but generally the Bruins defense (and not the defensive group but the overall term of "defense" hasn't been great). In 7 games, the Bruins have choked away a two goal lead twice (Hurricanes and Sabres) and last night looked like a skating abomination against the Sabres. 

Are the goals a problem? Yeah, but more times than not someone is going to get burnt on scoring a goal. It's how the goals are happening that seems to be a bigger issue. 99% of the time on these goals, a defenseman is out of position or making a stupid mistake, which leads to Rask having to make some unreal attempt (see: Rangers game). 

I know the season is still young and some ugly hockey is to be expected, but Jesus Christ. Wins are covering up some bad defensive hockey. 

 

 

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