By Joe Haggerty
RALEIGH, N.C. It wouldnt have felt right if the Bruins power play caught fire and dominated their first game against former defenseman Tomas Kaberle in his new Carolina digs.As it turns out, they didn't have anything to worry about.
Kaberle was the quarterback on the worst power play in the modern history of the Stanley Cup playoffs while with the Bruins last spring, and -- in perhaps a tribute that only the Hurricanes defenseman could love -- the Bs PP teams went 0-for-5 Wednesday night in their 3-2 loss to the Canes at the RBC Center.
The futile power play this season has an eerily familiar feel - if in results mostly -to a Bruins team that ranked in the bottom third of the NHL inpower-play success last year, and was even worse during the postseason. Fact is, the Bruins probably would have won Wednesday night if they had a power play humming at close to full efficiency. Admittedly the puck movement and offensive chances for the B's man advantage has been better this year with Tyler Seguin, Brad Marchand and Joe Corvo helping move the puck more crisply and creatively. But the results still aren't there yet.Its a little bit of everything. Patience is one thing and you can only go with patience for so long, said coach Claude Julien, who is not looking forward to answering questions about the power play's lack of production again this season. But Im certainly not going to go there this year and start chirping about the power play all year long. We certainly want to make it better . . .
Our best players arent at the top of their games. The last thing you want to do is push power play troubles on these guys . . . Weve got to find a way to break that cycle.
Despite new personnel on the power play and a change in formation during the man advantage, the emotional focus has been inconsistent at best. It appears that, with only one goal in 18 attempts so far this year, the players are beginning to press, just as they did last year.
So what to do about it?
Many critics of the Bs coaching staffs including NBCs Mike Milbury during the intermission report feel there isnt enough movement among players with andwithout the puck. That'snormally an indictment of a power play without enough creative offensive players, or a group of PP players that are battling with their confidence.Given some of the offensive talent on the B's man advantage, it would appear to be the latter more than the former. The movement issues seemed to be addressed during one stretch midway through the game, but, in true Black and Gold fashion, something went wrong on the power playWednesday night when Johnny Boychuk tried to create some offense by cutting toward the back door.
Instead of executing an offensive play that might have helped them win the game or quiet the growing power play peanut gallery, Boychuk misfired on shooting the puck while speeding toward the slot and was called for goaltender interference once he collided with Carolina netminderCam Ward.
Pretty indicative of the first four games for the Bruins this season as no good deed is going unpunished for Boychuk and the Bruins.