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I have always felt that Marc Bergevin tries to give his head coach exactly what he want. In the case of Michel Therrien, shipping P.K. Subban and Alex Semin out of town may have been prime examples. Therrien also seemed pleased with all the grinders he was handed by his general manager.
As Andrew Berkshire recently wrote for Sportsnet, Bergevin seems to be trying to build a shot-blocking force field around Carey Price. This was written, primarily, in reference to the signing of Karl Alzner.
This got me to thinking of the strongest defensive force field I have ever witnessed in hockey. What immediately came to mind was the Boston Bruins from 2011 to 2013.
The Stanlet Cup-winning Bruins in 2011 were tough to beat because of their defensive game. Tim Thomas was Vezina quality at the time (with a .940 save percentage in the playoffs) and I remember him playing farther out of his crease than any other goalie I can remember. He was able to do so because the defence in front of him was a brick wall that forced shooters to shoot from a distance: Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg, Johnny Boychuk, Andrew Ference, Adam McQuaid, and Tomas Kaberle.
Of the six, Kaberle, at a late stage in his career, was the only puck-rusher. He was, however, used on the third pairing and the power play (16:02 average time on ice) throughout the playoffs. The other defencemen, though they had some puck skills, were known as defence-first players. They could hammer the puck from the blue line, played physically, and took very few chances; a conservative coach's dream.
Could it be that Claude Julien has Bergevin following the same strategy? I wouldn't be surprised if Julien urged Bergevin to, for instance, ship Nathan Beaulieu out of town.
Our potential starting D is looking more like the 2011 Bruins than the 2016 Habs. Perhaps, as Marc Dumont and Connor McKenna mentioned a couple of seasons ago, the Habs may need Price to go .940 in the playoffs if they have a shot at winning the Cup. This may be exactly what Julien and Bergevin have in mind.