WILMINGTON The Bruins arent sensitive about many topics.
But the power play just might be the soft white underbelly for the Big Bad Bruins, and its something they worked on diligently during Tuesdays day of practice at Ristuccia Arena.
The Bruins ended the regular season in the middle of the NHL pack with a 17.1-percent success rate on their man advantage, but they also finished the season in a 2-for-21 rut as they readied for the playoffs. It certainly wasnt the eyesore that last years power play was, but it didnt exactly register as a certifiable team strength, either.
It definitely was frustrating when there were times last year when we couldnt even gain the zone on a power play, said Milan Lucic. It kind of sucks the life out of the team and you get into a lull right afterward. Hopefully we can rectify it this year and it wont be the problem that it was last year.
Whats the key to turning things around during this years postseason rather than going 2-for-37 on the man advantage as they did during the first two rounds against the Habs and Flyers last season?
Not waiting until the Cup Finals, said Claude Julien, who saw his team pull out a seven-game series against the Habs despite going 0-for-21 on the man advantage. That would be one key. Its a little bit of a touchy subject for everybody for quite a while. We finished 15th, so we finished middle of the pack this year. But when you look at our team you see weve got one guy with 29 goals and one guy with 28. Our scoring is spread out.
We dont have those Stamkos kind of guys. A lot of our goals are about that were a grinding team vs. a highly skilled team. Just because of that it makes it a little harder for us to score the amount of goals that certain other teams do.
But Julien said even if the Bruins dont light it up when they go offense on special teams, its all about keeping things close to even. If their PK unit can beat down the other teams skill players on their power plays, then a high-wattage Bs power play unit becomes much less required.
Last year if I look back at the Finals we ran into the No. 1 power play, but they ran into a gritty group of penalty killers. At the end of the day we were able to win that matchup. It goes hand-in-hand, said Julien. We work on it every day because we know its an area that becomes a challenge for us. But if you look at the final stats of teams there are a lot of teams below us in power play success rate that you would expect to be above us.
This year I found our power play to be better when it came to bringing it up, breaking in and spending time in the offensive zone. The biggest issue our team faced in the playoffs is the finishing. You look at the scoring chances at the end of the night, and our power play did everything but score. Its not as bad a situation as many people think, but at the same time we would like our power play to finish a little better in the playoffs.
All that being said, though, the Capitals were 21st in penalty kill percentage during the regular season, and should be weak enough to be exploited.
It appears that Joe Corvo is going to get the call for the Black and Gold as one of their top six defensemen in place of the injured Adam McQuaid, and hell man the right point spot opposite Zdeno Chara. David Krejci, Milan Lucic and Brian Rolston were the three forwards down closer to the net on the first power play unit.
Meanwhile Dennis Seidenberg and Rich Peverley were the point men on the second power play team with Patrice Bergeron, Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand rounding out the power play quintet.
Seguin was a big difference-maker with the second-most power play points (15) on the Bs behind Zdeno Charas team-best 18 points and eight power play goals. Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron all scored five or more power play goals, but they will miss the PP production of Nathan Horton. The right wing had six power play goals in only 46 games, and was a legit weapon for rebounds and tips right around the net.
We just need to do whatever we can to create shots, make crisp passes and find options when theyre there, said Lucic. More than anything else we just need to bear down and score when the chances are there. Its all a mindset. That has to be our mindset going into it.
So they will rely on the balance, depth and grinding grit that symbolized the Bruins way of playing hockey. It wont be pretty, finesse special teams work.
But it was good enough to win them a Cup last season while crapping out most of the time, and that cant happen two years in a row.