The good news from Wednesday night is that when the Bruins needed a jolt, Claude Julian went gambling.
Before the 3rd period, he threw caution to the wind and broke up his long established top line of Nathan Horton, Milan Lucic and David Krejci on the fly. Claude grouped a slumping Tyler Seguin with Lucic and Krejci to spark a Bruins team that was struggling to create scoring chances. Juliens roster alchemy turned leaden legs to gold almost instantly as the aforementioned combination scored two quick tallies to lead the Bruins to a 2-1 win over the Habs in Montreal.
The bad news is the Bruins power-play is still sloppier than a Lena Dunham nude scene. Given the talent on this roster, even with the recent injuries, it shouldn't be a yearly crisis.
Luckily, this season, the answer to their man advantage woes are right under their nose and its not giving Chris Bourque and the High Glass line more minutes.
If Claude has the guts to put his best three forwards together to kick start the offense, he should have no issues rolling the dice by letting his best two defenseman direct the power play.
Zdeno Chara and Dougie Hamilton are the key elements to turning around the Bruins man disadvantage, and they will be using a formula that is proven to work and easy to replicate.
Last year, who had the best power play in the NHL? Here is a hint; it wasn't the Penguins, Flyers or Canucks. It was the Nashville Predators.
They had a PP of 21.6, tops in the NHL. How can this be, given that Nashville had nobody in the top 50 in points scored last year, didnt have a 30-goal scorer, and that Nashville coach, Barry Trotz, looks like he just walked under a pile driver?
The answer is Shea Weber and Ryan Suter. Last year Nashville had 54 total Power Play goals. Shea Weber was on the ice for 47 of those 54 and Suter was on the ice for 45 of them. With Weber's cannon and Suter's passing skills anchoring their power play, they took a group of forwards Trotz would be hard pressed to make (bleep) salad with, let alone a version with chicken, and turned them into man advantage assassins.
Patric Hornqvist 27 goals, 8 on the power play
Craig Smith 14 goals, 6 on the power play
Mike Fisher 24 goals, 5 on the power play
Colin Wilson 15 goals, 5 on the power play
David Legwand 19 goals, 5 on the power play
Martain Erat 19 goals, 5 on the power play
None of those players finished with over 60 points. Guys like Smith and Wilson couldn't even crack 40 points but on the PP they were just as deadly as Seguin, Bergeron and Marchand (all 5 PP goals) were last season and more than doubled the goals scored by a 60-point player like David Krejci (2 PP goals).
Barry Trotz doesnt look like he works in a think tank. He isnt a hockey genius and certainly isnt an offensive guru. But he is pragmatic enough to know he had a defensive team with no elite scorers. So he maximized his teams talent on the PP by keeping Weber and Suter, his two best players, out there as much as possible, to lift the play of his forwards. The results spoke for themselves.
The Bruins can replicate the simple success of last years Predators buy letting Chara and Hamilton run the power play.
Chara has every bit the bomb from the point that Weber does. Last season he had 8 power play goals, only two fewer than Weber, on a team that suffered from an inconsistent man advantage all season. With someone like Suter setting his plate, Z would be a terror weapon and the Bruins might actually have someone better.
Hamilton was a deadly PP Quarterback in juniors. He had 55 assists last season, 30 of which came on the man advantage, which lead the OHL. Hamilton also has a great shot, arguably one superior to Suters. He had 17 goals last season and nine came on the PP. He's the anti Kaberle; a point man who's a gifted passer with a shot that has to be respected. Simply put, Hamilton could be the best person to run the Bruins Power Play since Marc Savard was healthy.
Give those two the ice time to generate chemistry and mix in a better group of forwards than Nasville and this power play should no longer be a liability that makes Bruins fans wish they could decline penalties. Chara and Hamilton setting up Seguin, Lucic, Horton, Marchand, Krejci and Bergeron will finally fix a problem that's stretched multiple seasons.
The only question is will Claude let it? Chara is already leading the team in Power Play Time On Ice but he may need to stay out there longer. Right now Hamilton is 7th on the team in PP TOI. That will have to increase dramatically because he going to be joined with Chara at the hip.
Krejci is currently 2nd in PP TOI. Give Hamilton Krejci's PP minutes and let him and Chara develop into an elite power-play combination. If that means that Seidenberg, Boychuck, Ference and McQuaid need to pick up more even strength ice time then so be it because this team is not going to win another Stanley with a power play that works less than Windows 8.
Claude, who to his credit, is already way more trusting of Hamilton than he was with Seguin at this stage of his career. Now he needs to reward that trust with the responsibility to run the power play.
Dougie and Z have what it takes to make the power play work and after last night, Claude might actually take a chance and let them fix it.