NEWARK, N.J. – One of the more underappreciated aspects of the Bruins' 10-game winning streak has been the return to form of Boston’s penalty-kill unit.
The PK has always been a staple to the Bruins’ success over the years, and that's certainly been the case over these last 10 games. The B's have allowed only two power-play goals over that span, killing 26 of 28 opposition chances. And even though one of those power-play goals allowed came in Tuesday night's 4-2 win over the New Jersey Devils, the penalty-killing unit actually turned the game around.
A pivotal Brad Marchand shorthanded strike in the second period broke a 1-1 tie, giving Boston a lead it wouldn’t relinquish. Marchand has become one of the most dangerous penalty killers in the NHL with a team-best five shorthanded goals.
It's all a far cry from the team that allowed four power-play goals to the same New Jersey team in a loss back in October, and struggled on the PK following the loss of Dennis Seidenberg to a right knee injury.
“We really need to bear down on [the penalty kill] going into the playoffs,” said Marchand. “We were just complicating things a little too much, and we were bound to go through a bad stretch there.”
It’s also something Claude Julien likes to see, given how few power-play opportunities are awarded to the Black and Gold. Typically, Julien’s Bruins teams finish in the NHL’s bottom five in terms of power-play chances while also finishing in the top 5-10 teams on the penalty kill. This season the Bruins -- for whatever reason -- are dead last in the NHL in power-play chances earned.
“Our penalty kill has to be [good] because we’re not blessed with too many power plays,” said Claude Julien. “We still can’t figure out why. We see reasons why we should be on the power play, but it just never works out.
“Your penalty kill has to be good every night because you’re always killing way more than you are on the power play. It’s been that way for years, but it’s a good thing we’re a disciplined team. We don’t take a lot of penalties, but we don’t get a lot of power plays, either.”
The Bruins spent long stretches of this season mired in the middle of the NHL’s penalty kill rankings after long years of success, but now they’re trending back in the top 10 rankings.
“I think we’re anticipating,” said Chris Kelly. “There is no hesitation out there, which is nice to see. If the puck is jumping, then we’re all in trouble as a group. I think our clears are better now than when they were scoring on us, and we’re not giving them second- or third-chance opportunities. Instead we’re forcing teams to make good plays.”