Bruins power play fix start with the letter 'D'

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Bruins power play fix start with the letter 'D'

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.

Sources: Bruins engaged in trade talks involving Ryan Spooner

Sources: Bruins engaged in trade talks involving Ryan Spooner

This probably won’t come as a complete shock to those watching the way things have played out with him this season, but the Bruins have engaged in discussions with multiple teams about a Ryan Spooner trade, per multiple sources with knowledge of the situation. 

The 23-year-old Spooner was mentioned casually a few months ago as possible fodder in a Jacob Trouba deal with the Winnipeg Jets, but that deal never really materialized prior to the Jets signing their young, frontline D-man to a two-year deal. The Carolina Hurricanes, New York Islanders and San Jose Sharks have all expressed interest in Spooner, per one hockey source, as it appears that things simply aren’t going to work out for him in Boston. 

It’s been a challenging year for Spooner with pedestrian numbers of three goals and eight points in 24 games, but there are plenty of mitigating circumstances behind the slow start. Spooner has been pushed into playing left wing for the bulk of the season rather than his natural, preferred center position, and he’s been dropped to the fourth line by Claude Julien over the last few weeks. At times he’s also been pulled from the Bruins power play where he racked up six goals and 17 points working off the half-wall last season.  

Julien talked about the former second round pick in frank terms after this week’s win over the Carolina Hurricanes, which featured a Spooner snipe to the top corner during a successful shootout for the Black and Gold. 

“I think at times that [David Krejci] line goes quiet, other times it’s better. We’ve tried different guys on the left side right now and one [Spooner] might give them speed but doesn’t win as many battles,” said Julien of his search for stability at left wing alongside Krejci and David Backes. “The other way [with Tim Schaller] guys are a little harder right now, and they spend more time in the O-zone. So we’re really trying hard to find the right balance there.”

Trade talks have increased the past few weeks because A) the situation has worsened recently with Spooner’s prolonged stint as a miscast fourth line winger and B) the speedy, skilled forward will most likely be a man without a spot when 22-year-old left winger Frank Vatrano returns sometime around the mid-December range. 

According to one source, the Bruins are asking for a “top six forward” in exchange for a package including Spooner, and it’s a lead pipe certainty they’re looking for some goal-scoring given their 24th ranked offense this season. That represents a bit of an organizational sea change after the Bruins searched low and high for a top-4 defenseman in trade over the summer. The emergence of 20-year-old Brandon Carlo, and the Boston defense’s performance across the board, has lowered the Black and Gold’s priority list need to trade for a D-man. 

The Bruins have scored two goals or fewer in 18 of their 25 games this season and badly need somebody that can put the puck in the net from one of the wing positions. Unfortunately for the Bruins, there aren’t a lot of top-6 forwards readily available that could make an immediate impact. It’s highly doubtful any team is going to fork one over for an asset like Spooner that’s been downgraded due to the way he’s been utilized by the Bruins this season. He hasn't played with the same creativity or confidence this season after posting 13 goals and 49 points as their third line center last season. 

So it remains to be seen what the Bruins will get for Spooner after they offered him and a draft pick to Buffalo for rental forward Chris Stewart a couple of years ago. That was a deal Sabres GM Tim Murray turned down before trading Stewart for considerably less at the trade deadline.

The bottom line: the Bruins are working the phones discussing possible Spooner deals, and it feels like there is some motivation from B’s management to move a player that doesn’t seem like he'll ever be a proper fit in Julien’s system. 

Sunday Dec. 4: Zacha adjusting to life in the NHL

Sunday Dec. 4: Zacha adjusting to life in the NHL

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while marveling at the Bruins setting a franchise record this season for fewest practices in a regular season. Thanks compacted schedule due to the World Cup!

*Pavel Zacha is adjusting to life as a rookie in the NHL with the New Jersey Devils, and things are getting better as they go along.

*Manitoba Moose players relive their favorite Star Wars moments prior to the team holding their Star Wars Night.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Elliotte Friedman sits down with new Florida Panthers head coach Tom Rowe to discuss the massive changes in that organization with the firing of Gerard Gallant.

*Good for Anders Nilson putting a rainbow decal on the back of his goalie to mask to support some gay friends that have faced public resistance in their lives.

*Bruce Garrioch has his weekly NHL notes with several players, including Flyers defenseman Andrew MacDonald, potentially on the trade block if anybody wants them.

*PHT writer Cam Tucker has Colorado Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson suffering a broken leg that will keep him out 6-8 weeks.

*There was no blood for the Vancouver Canucks fans, but there was still plenty of drama in a win over the Maple Leafs.

*For something completely different: The World Baseball Classic works for everybody except for Major League Baseball, and that would appear to be a problem.