Through two games in the Eastern Conference Final it has been all Boston. The Bruins have scored 11 times and have a commanding lead headed to Raleigh.
The offensive outbursts have come in a variety of ways, but chief among them is the Bruins’ excellent transition game. Boston has quickly turned from defense to offense and caught the Hurricanes off guard on a number of occasions.
The opening goal of the series actually came off of a Hurricanes’ faceoff win. A soft pass to Justin Faulk leaves him vulnerable to pickpocket Marcus Johansson. From there, the B’s quickly engage up the ice. Defenseman Steven Kampfer beats his man, Micheal Ferland, up the ice and gets a clean look from the high slot off a pass from Johansson.
In game two, it was another Boston defenseman creating offense, this time Connor Clifton. The Bruins win battles and races on loose pucks in the neutral zone and the Hurricanes get caught puck watching and fail to cover, really, anyone in-zone. Clifton beats Haydn Fleury back to the net and has an easy tap in.
Seconds later, the Bruins nearly burn the Hurricanes with another quick transition through center ice.
Fortunately, Petr Mrazek makes a spectacular save, keeping Carolina in the game, at least for a moment. But the Boston skaters were simply more engaged than Carolina’s, beating the Canes in nearly every race up ice.
The fourth Boston goal came on a power play, but featured a quick Torey Krug pass to Charlie Coyle, once again creating a quick switch from the defensive zone into a grade-A scoring chance.
Later, with Patrice Bergeron coming out of the penalty box, an intercepted Dougie Hamilton shot-pass is quickly turned up ice. Within seconds, the Bruins go from hemmed in their own zone to putting yet another puck behind Mrazek.
However, it isn’t just the Bruins who have and can continue to use quick transitions. Although the Canes’ offense is often generated through their cycle game and extended in-zone shifts, in the series opener the Canes had several chances generated through transition, including this shot from Justin Williams.
Earlier in game one, Greg McKegg won a defensive zone faceoff and quickly bolted through center ice on his way to tallying Carolina’s second goal.
As the series shifts back to Raleigh, the Hurricanes must stiffen up their defense in the neutral zone in order to stifle Boston’s quick strike offense. Better defensive positioning may even help the Hurricanes generate offense off the rush of their own.