In the second part of my preview for the Flyers’ upcoming Eastern Conference Semi-Finals series against the Boston Bruins, I’ll take a look at the Bruins defense. It’s a strong group, and potentially better than the unit the Flyers faced in New Jersey last round. Before I get carried away – ladies and gentlemen, the Boston Bruins blue-liners:
Zdeno Chara – Dennis Wideman
Johnny Boychuk – Matt Hunwick
Andrew Ference – Adam McQuaid
***Denis Seidenberg likely will be back at some point in this series for the Bruins, probably taking McQuaid’s spot on the blue-line
Two defensemen to watch on the Bruins:
1. Zdeno Chara. The biggest player on the ice in this series will need to be at his absolute best and at his highest level of awareness against a ferocious Flyers forecheck. Chara has been one of the best defensemen in the league for the past decade and has a slapshot that will literally send the opposition scurrying out of the way the minute he steps back and winds up. If the Flyers choose to put Boston on the power play often, Chara’s name will probably be heard from just as much, as he’ll be scoring goal after goal on slappers from the point that – quite frankly, and no offense to Boosh – just aren’t stoppable if they are on-net. He’s a physical presence as well, as he proved in the Bruins round one victory over Buffalo, leading all skaters for Boston with 25 penalty minutes. The Flyers will need to bring the physicality to Chara and try to get under his skin if they want to have a shot of getting past the Bruins.
2. Johnny Boychuk. In his first full season with Boston, Boychuk came on to the map as a reliable, top-four defenseman in the NHL. He’s been incredibly solid throughout his time in Beantown this season, and will be counted on more than ever to produce in this series. Boychuk is a huge physical presence out on the ice each and every night, as he proved by his mammoth of a hit against Buffalo on Matt Ellis in round one. The Flyers forwards love to muck and grind on the forecheck, and play physical within the corners, which is the type of game that Boychuk loves. He’ll continue to be a force the Bruins physically in this series, but it’s up to the Flyers to try and eliminate any offensive confidence (1 G, 2A) that Boychuk may have gained due to his success in the last round.
Scoring Leaders for the Bruins’ Defense
GOALS: Zdeno Chara (2)
ASSISTS: Matt Hunwick (4)
POINTS: Hunwick & Dennis Wideman (4)
PLUS/MINUS: Wideman (EVEN)
PENALTY MINUTES: Chara (25)