Bruins: Speed Kills in Today’s NHL

( Photo Credit: Bill Kostroun / AP Photo )

 By: Craig Eagles | Follow Me On Twitter @Eags37

Other than the word “obviously” replacing “you know,” the hockey world’s vernacular never really changed until recently. The newest trendy phrase in the game has been around forever and really starting to piss me off.

You can’t go to a rink or talk hockey without someone saying, “play fast.” What the hell does “playing fast” actually mean, and why the hell are we seeing it being thrown around the hockey world like a box of Crackerjacks at a Major League Baseball game?

Do minor hockey coaches, players, and fans alike even know what “play fast” means? “We really want to play fast,” and “Wow, that team really plays fast, they are going to be tough to play against.” 

Ok, I understand trying to “play fast” is critical to winning in the new era of the game, and I understand the game has changed, and it’s more skilled and faster, but come on. You see, when NHL players and coaches mention playing fast, it makes perfect sense. It’s all about speed and precision.

Speed kills in today’s NHL. That’s what makes the B’s performance in Game one so promising. One massive takeaway the other night was the speed at which the B’s transitioned the puck. Now I realize that we haven’t seen NHL hockey for a while, but the Bruins looked a lot faster. Collectively they have a lot of team speed, and there’s no doubt it’s the fastest B’s team ever. 

The pre-COVID-19 Bruins were on a roll, but when they entered the bubble, things seemed to slow down considerably. No one wants to relive that experience. Nevertheless, the Bruins under Bruce Cassidy have predominantly played a quicker, more attack style game, which has undoubtedly led to success.

Obviously, in order to play fast, you need team speed, and the 2020-2021 Bruins certainly possess a shit ton of that. In order to meet the prerequisite of a team that “plays fast,” you also need skill, you need to execute, but more importantly, you need to play as a unit and support the puck in all three zones.

Puck possession has always been paramount, but that’s what sometimes drives me crazy about scouting and or watching Junior and Midget hockey. Teams try to play fast but just end up turning pucks over. That’s not playing fast; that’s playing careless.

I realize those young players are still developing and learning how to play the game at a high level. Nonetheless, when it comes to the NHL and specifically the Bruins, one only has to look at the mobility of their backend and how the forwards support the transition game. The B’s defensive core played a solid game the other night and moved the puck very well, but were they careless? 

Did they make the big mistake? 

Cassidy has always promoted “playing fast” or an up-tempo game, but on some nights, when your team doesn’t support the puck, it just feels like everyone is chasing it.

How many times last year were the B’s chasing the game, trying to play catch up hockey, not getting in on the forecheck, not creating or generating chances, and turning pucks over at bad times? Playing fast can take on several different connotations, and all those can change the game’s complexion.

Every team in the National Hockey League wants to play a fast in your face brand of hockey, especially this season with a condensed schedule. Nevertheless, can every team and especially the Bruins sustain it? The 2020-2021 B’s have been built to play any style of game.

They can play fast, but they can also lock it down. They can play a physical gritty style and the finesse game. My only hope is that they don’t get caught up in all the hype of trying to play fast and not take care of the puck or play to their identity.

With an injection of youth into their lineup, the B’s now have more speed, but do they have enough savvy with the puck? I’m all for playing fast at the NHL level, but let’s just take care of the damn puck. As for a clearcut definition for “playing fast,” I have mine, but what’s yours? 

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