Thursday, April 16, 2009

Can the Bruins confidence be a weakness?

BOSTON - Georges Laraque stole the spotlight Thursday morning prior to Game 1 because of these comments he made to CKAC on Wednesday morning, and you can read what I thought of the sideshow here.

But the biggest thing that jumped out at me today was the air of confidence in the Bruins room, a huge contrast from last year when there was a definite sense of impending doom in the Boston camp prior to the series.

Players were very composed, and though they said nothing that would provide bulletin board material for the Habs, I really felt that their body language spoke volumes about how they feel about their chances to win the series.

Bruins coach Claude Julien repeated over and over again how his team will simply play the same way they have all season by rolling four lines and playing physical without crossing the line to stupid, undisciplined play.

"Even when things were going well, when we were on that hot streak and got ourselves in first place, we never really looked further than the next game," he said. "We are really a team that seems to do better when we focus on short-term goals, and right now, I've said all week that we're not going to change our philosophy. Our way of playing has been succesful for our team all year. There's no real big secret to our game plan here. We don't plan on changing much."

Last year at the same time, Julien would be laughed at if he had said the same thing because the Canadiens had taken all eight meetings between the teams. But when you win the conference and won five of six games against the Habs, there really is no reason to change a thing.

"We had a ot of guys getting their first experience in the playoffs (last year), and what better place to start than Montreal," Julien said. "There's no doubt they gained a lot of experience, grew from that xperience and hopefully we'll take advantage of it this year."

I'm wondering if this might serve as a hinderance to the Bruins success in the series.

When Boston turned it around last year, I really felt it was because Julien just coached the pants off Guy Carbonneau, making adjustments on the fly while Carbonneau was more reluctant to do the same because of the regular season success of his team.

Now it is Julien in the role of sticking with what worked, while Bob Gainey has the task of making the adjustments necessary to switch the momentum from the season to his team in the playoffs. Will Julien be more willing than Carbonneau was to shuffle the deck should his team lose tonight? Will he be willing to scratch a player that's under-performing compared to the regular season? I'm not sure.

Gainey, however, won't have to struggle with changes he might be forced to make, because frankly there isn't a single formula that has worked for any extended period of time for the Canadiens all season, even when they were winning games in the first half (doesn't that seem like a season ago now?).

When looking at the series on paper, the Bruins have a decided advantage in every single possible category: goaltending, forwards, defence and special teams.

But perhaps, just perhaps, their lone weakness might very well be their own success.

1 comment:

Andy J Smith illustration said...

Success is such a detriment!