B's look to create more PP chances with improved unit

B's look to create more PP chances with improved unit
November 27, 2013, 10:30 am
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(USA Today Sports Images)

It’s a simple fact Bruins coach Claude Julien’s teams haven’t been all that good at drawing penalties since he took over the coaching reins seven years ago. The Bruins have never ranked higher than 23rd in the NHL in power play opportunities in any of the seven seasons under Julien after the coach preached a policy of not diving or embellishing calls on the ice.

Clearly the embellishing can still happen on the ice from time-to-time despite the best of intentions, as any fan of Brad Marchand can tell you.

But the Bruins were dead last in the NHL in power play opportunities last season, and once again this year they’re 30th of 30 NHL teams with 62 power play chances in 24 games. That hasn’t been as much of an issue in the past as the Black and Gold hasn’t had a power play that could really inflict damage on their opponent, and the Bruins would much rather play five-on-five hockey than get into a special teams battle with more well-heeled opponents.

But this season the Bruins actually have a little something going on the man advantage. The addition of Torey Krug, Dougie Hamilton, Carl Soderberg, Reilly Smith, Jarome Iginla and Loui Eriksson to the talent already on those B’s power play units has assistant coach Geoff Ward’s PP plan in the top half of NHL teams ranking 14th with a 19.7 percent success rate.

“The PP has been pretty good as of late. We’ve had some chances. Zdeno had a goal in the Carolina game, and [vs. Pittsburgh] we had a quick goal. That’s obviously what you want,” said Lucic. “I think our PP this year is better than it’s been in year’s past. When we got our opportunities, which we haven’t had many of other than the Carolina game, we need to try to make it a weapon more than it’s hurt us in the past.

“It’s something we can’t control. But what we can control is what gets penalties. It goes back to what I think our line needs to get back to: moving our feet and attacking those areas where somebody will take you down or trip you. The calls themselves are out of our control. We’re a team with a lot of pride that doesn’t dive or embellish. You just hope the right calls are being made at the right time.”

The Eriksson-to-Soderberg-to-Reilly power play goal vs. the Penguins on Monday night that took only nine seconds to score is something that you would never have seen in the past few years.

So there’s a little more incentive for the Bruins to earn a few more power plays, and it’s something the coaching staff would like to see while knowing it’s up to the refs to raise their arms.

“It is frustrating at times to see us and the power play opportunities; we’re often at the bottom of the league. It’s something that we have to live with,” said Claude Julien. “At times I think we get blamed for not creating enough power play opportunities, but anybody that watches us play sees there are plenty of things that could be called.

“We just have to live with that situation. The fact that we do have a power play that can score and that we do have the ability to score, it has made a different in our game.”

If the Bruins can find a way to get on an extra power play or two a game with their revamped PP units, the man advantage has an even bigger chance of making a difference in the Black and Gold’s game.