Rather than sit back and relive the horror of game two between the Bruins and Penguins, I wanted to focus in on a specific aspect of what Boston does with a lead and why it’s so difficult to score on them when playing from behind.

For starters, Claude Julien is a defensive mastermind. I think it’s fairly clear at this point that he’s aware of the firepower the Penguins forwards can unleash.

The Bruins are being opportunistic and patient, two attributes that I stated the Penguins had to have before this series started.

The Penguins are a team that thrives on their ability to get the puck deep and take the man down low. Once they get the puck into the offensive zone, they’re fantastic at sealing the play off along the wall.

The Penguins want to get the puck deep and seal off the boards. Their goal is to take the easy play along the wall away. They utilize their speed, the stretch pass, and any open space you give them to get into the zone as quickly as possible.

So, what are the Bruins doing in the comfort of a 1 or 2 goal lead that makes zone entry such a nightmare for the Penguins?

It looks to me like the Bruins are utilizing the 2-3 trap to stop the Penguins crusade up ice.

On paper, it looks like this.

Essentially, the Bruins are hanging one forward back and stacking three guys at the blueline to prevent the Penguins from doing any of the following:

1. Stretch pass into the zone.
2. Skate with speed into the zone.
3. Find any area of open ice in the slot area if/when the Penguins enter the offensive zone.

This is a frustrating system to play against, here it is in action:

Paul Martin is hauling the puck up ice on a clean breakout. The circle indicates the the forward that will eventually end up deep on his own blue line taking an initial pass away from Paul Martin.

Like our yellow arrows indicated above, this entire rush by the Penguins is about to get disrupted by two high pressure Bruin forcheckers.

There they are. The far side forward will retreat to the blue line.

The forwards in the circles will run a two man front designed to disrupt the Penguins ability to either skate the puck in or dump the puck deep.

The Bruins want the Penguins to dump this puck in.

They have three guys that are going back to play like outfielders in baseball. If the Penguins skate it in, they face a wall of Bruins.

If the Penguins dump it in, the puck retrieval for the Bruins is about as easy as it gets.

That is a 2-3 neutral zone trap in all of its frustrating glory.

The Penguins forwards are at a standstill and Paul Martin is completely stuck. The Bruins have a wall of defenders in front of them and their two overly aggressive forcheckers have stymied the Penguins in a major way.

You know what other name this system goes by?

The Left Wing Lock.

In doing some additional research for this article, I stumbled upon a 2-3 neutral zone trap coaching manual from Hockey Player Developer – pay particular attention to the bolded area of this statement:

“So, if we commit 2 players to a fore check in their zone with a careful ‘both sides of the ice covered’ containment type active fore check and keep our other forward high at the blue line with our 2 defencemen, we should be able at best to win the puck in their zone or in the neutral zone, prevent stretch breakout passes and odd man rushes, and at worst to allow them just to shoot the puck into our zone.

My goodness, it’s as if the author wrote that having watched this series play out in front of him!

Don’t make the mistake of thinking of this trap as a strictly defensive type of a system. There’s a reason the Bruins are scoring goals off of it. You catch the team in the neutral zone, get a quick turnover at the blueline, and you’re off to the races in the opposite direction.

You don’t really see the Bruins employ this unless they have a lead, which sadly enough, they’ve had for the duration of this series thus far.

Dan Bylsma’s job now becomes to figure out how to:

a.) Get a lead early and prevent this from happening
b.) Solve the Bruins stranglehold on the neutral zone.

Trust me, that’s a lot easier said than done.