Haggerty: Bruins power play finally coming together

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Haggerty: Bruins power play finally coming together

WINNIPEG Dont look now, but the much maligned Bruins power play is starting to pick things up a little bit.

Brad Marchand kicked in a power play goal in the third period when he and Patrice Bergeron jumped out to an odd-man rush just 26 seconds into their PP possession. The Marchand backhander jumped over the glove hand of Ondrej Pavelec and gave Boston exactly what they needed.

Chris Bourque helped jump start the play with the transition pass out of the Boston end, and the third line winger now shares the team lead in power play assists as he slowly and surely continues finding his niche with the Bruins.

The Nose Face Killah now leads the Bruins with two power play goals and has three total special teams points when combined with his shorthanded strike from earlier this season.

The power play was created when the Bruins executed a face-off play on Winnipeg that saw Marchand get deep into the Jets zone with the puck on a stretch pass from Zdeno Chara, and Ron Hainsey had to take a tripping penalty in the Boston agitator.

Thats a face-off play that Patrice Bergeron, Chara and Marchand have executed at least four or five teams over the last few years, and it seems to always draw a penalty or create a scoring chance when they opt for it.

That wasnt a play. I just got lost back behind everybody, said a smirking Marchand, who apparently wants to keep it as Bostons secret weapon.

That special teams score was the game-winning strike in a 3-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets at the MTS Centre, and also gives the Bruins a power play goal in three of their last four games played. Now the Winnipeg Jets have the worst penalty kill unit in the entire NHL, and that might have been a factor in the ease of Bostons game-winning special teams score.

But Black and Gold beggars cant be choosers and theyll take a PP goal any way that they can.

I feel like our power play has been clicking decently all season, but at the end of the day its about results, said Tyler Seguin, who never got on the ice with the PP as the quintet of Chara, Rich Peverley, Chris Bourque, Bergeron and Marchand hit pay dirt 27 seconds into the possession. We got a man-advantage goal and hopefully it keeps paying off for us.

Marchand was feeling a little generous following the game, so he let everybody in on a Bs team meeting that took place earlier this week designed to kick the man advantage into gear. It appears the meeting also included some new personnel combinations as the agitating Bruins forward is getting more and more power play time for the Black and Gold.

Its huge. A few games back we had a big meeting and we wanted to make sure that we really improved on the power play, said Marchand, who potted his team-leading eighth goal of the season for the game-winning marker. I think three or four games in a row weve had a power play goal. Were very proud of that. You saw that it wins games on a day like today. Thats what we need.

We were doing a pretty good job moving the puck, so we just stressed more about bearing down on the offensive opportunities.

Apparently, the team meeting worked with the Bruins rocketing all the way up to 26th in the NHL with a 13 percent success rate (6-for-46) on the power play this season. Part of the success has been the insertion of Marchand and Chris Bourque on the power play units, but its also about moving the puck more quickly and with more confidence.

When informed that Marchand had spilled the beans about Bostons power play meeting, Claude Julien looked slightly peeved. But its a little difficult to get angry at the guy thats leading the team in goals scored and has helped breathe some life into the man advantage.

After were done here Im going to go tell Marchand that hes got a loud mouth, said Julien with a smile on his face. We just had a meeting where we talked about a lot of pressure that comes from the outside, and a lot of the pressure that comes from the inside. The guys want to do well, but its important to understand that how we execute and how we compete is going to decide if we do well.

We needed to move the puck a little quicker and crisper, and the last few games have been better. But you dont want to get too carried away with that stuff. You want to build on it. We capitalized on our own only power play tonight and thats a good sign.

Julien is 100-percent correct. The Bruins seem to have found a combination they like with Chara, Peverley, Bourque, Marchand and Bergeron and the results have been there in producing three power play goals over the last week.

Now its up to those players to continue moving the puck and producing PP points, and the second power play unit featuring Seguin and Dougie Hamilton to keep pace as they attempt to turn a perennial weakness into team strength.

Saturday, Jan. 21: McKenzie on Julien's job security

Saturday, Jan. 21: McKenzie on Julien's job security

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while proud of my wife and daughter participating in today’s Women’s March.

*This is from a few days ago, but Bob McKenzie weighing in on the prospects for Claude Julien and his job security is always worth checking out.  

*The New York Rangers have themselves a rookie named Pavel that’s doing a pretty darned good job for the Blueshirts.

*What should the St. Louis Blues do with Kevin Shattenkirk as the trade deadline approaches and the seven-year, $49 million contract waiting for him in free agency is pretty daunting?

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Kevin Allen has a list of underperforming NHL stars, including Jamie Benn and Jonathan Toews, that may have been impacted by the World Cup of Hockey. Certainly Patrice Bergeron could have made this list as well.

*Blackhawks backup goalie Scott Darling may be earning some more playing time after the way he performed against the Bruins, according to Pro Hockey Talk.

*Good news with Ottawa Senators goalie Craig Anderson set to return to the team in a couple of weeks after tending to his wife in a battle against cancer.

*The struggles of Anthony Duclair with the Arizona Coyotes mirror the team’s issues this season as well. It’s interesting that Duclair has popped up in trade rumors with the Desert Dogs this season.

*For something completely different: the final Wolverine movie with Hugh Jackman is going to be extremely emotional with its characters.


 

Both Millers missing from Bruins practice, but trending toward return

Both Millers missing from Bruins practice, but trending toward return

BRIGHTON, Mass – While both Kevan Miller and Colin Miller were missing from Bruins practice on Saturday morning, both injured Bruins defensemen could be rejoining the team soon.

Colin Miller skated on his own prior to Saturday’s team practice at Warrior Ice Arena for the second or third time since suffering a lower body injury in the win over the St. Louis Blues. Claude Julien said his presence on the ice was proof that the puck-moving defenseman is “definitely on the mend”, and could be nearing a return to practice soon with Sunday marking the sixth straight game that he’ll have missed.

Kevan Miller is out with a concussion suffered last weekend in the win over the Philadelphia Flyers, and the B’s current three-game losing streak has coincided with his absence from the lineup.

Julien said Miller has actually been away from the team for the last couple of days while dealing with a virus, and that his recovery from the concussion symptoms was good prior to being knocked down by the illness.

“Kevan was actually feeling really well and then he got hit by a virus that’s kept him in bed for the last two days,” said Julien. “It’s nothing to do with his original injury. There was a possibility he could have been ready very soon, but that’s set him back a bit.”

Both are obviously out for Sunday’s matinee against the Penguins, but a return to practice at some point next week seems like a good bet for both players. Here are the line combos and defense pairings from Saturday’s practice with the Bruins focusing on getting a good result in Pittsburgh with the hockey club on a “mom’s trip” with 22 of the players’ mothers traveling with the team to and from the game:

Marchand-Bergeron-Vatrano

Schaller-Krejci-Pastrnak

Spooner-Nash-Backes/Hayes

Blidh/Beleskey-Moore-Czarnik

 

Chara-Carlo

Krug-McQuaid

Morrow-Liles

 

Rask

McIntyre