Julien: Power-play critics need to 'take a breath'

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Julien: Power-play critics need to 'take a breath'

WILMINGTON, Mass. The streak remained alive Sunday as Claude Julien was once again asked about the struggling Bruins power play following practice on Ristuccia Arena. The Bs man advantage is now ranked 29th in the NHL after getting out to a 1-for-17 start, and is only behind the Los Angeles Kings that have started out a putrid 0-for-23 on the season.

The Bruins practiced with their top two PP units on Sunday before leaving on a flight to Carolina for the start of back-to-back games against the Hurricanes and New Jersey Devils on Monday and Tuesday, respectively. Dennis Seidenberg wasnt entered back into the mix on the second PP unit after coming back from injury Dougie Hamilton and Rich Peverley have been manning the points on the second unit for the last three games and Julien preached patience just one week into the season.

Given the Bruins track record with the power play crapping out in the playoffs in each of the last two seasons, thats a pretty special request. David Krejci probably should have been credited for a power play goal but a video replay ruled no goal against the Rangers, and both Nathan Horton and Tyler Seguin have clanged posts on power-play scoring chances.

But the Bruins have also had entire two minute power play possessions in the last two games where there wasnt a single fired at the net, and the enthusiasm seemed to be flagging within the units skaters.

I thought Id be able to get away for at least one day without a power play question, said Julien. The results havent been there, but Id say in three of the four games that we moved the puck well, we hit a post and we had a goal disallowed. A lot of stuff has happened.

I could throw a lot of things at you whether it was LA winning last year without a good power play or Tampa Bay not even practicing the power play this year because they know you cant win a Cup without strong five-on-five play. But I think people need to step back and maybe take a breath a little bit . . . and not make a mountain out of a power play. We want it to work well, but its not the end of the world. Were still winning hockey games.

Its true that the Bruins and Kings made it two straight Stanley Cup champs that survived the postseason gauntlet without a high-functioning power play, and whatever the Lightning are doing is working because theyve got five PP goals in 20 tries this season. But then again they also boast Steve Stamkos cranking one-timers from the face-off dot, so perhaps that makes practicing a little less important for their special teams unit.

But the expectation is that names like Tyler Seguin, Hamilton, Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, Milan Lucic and Krejci involved in the Bs man advantage will eventually perform up to their potential, and turn the bright scrutiny of the spotlight elsewhere.

We hope with time that well get some of the results that we havent received so far, said Julien.

For now the Bruins are hanging their hat on a perfect 17-for-17 mark in killing penalties as well, so one dominant special teams unit is covering for the other one while the PP performers get their swagger back. Unfortunately theres no telling when that will be for a Bs power play unit that doesnt get the benefit of the doubt after the way things have looked over the last two years.

Blidh plans to bring some energy to Bruins after call-up

Blidh plans to bring some energy to Bruins after call-up

BRIGHTON, Mass. – Anton Blidh plans on keeping things pretty straightforward on his first call-up to the NHL. 

The former sixth-round pick of the Bruins has earned his stripes at the AHL level with Providence over the last couple of seasons, and comes to Boston as a gritty, energy forward capable of stirring things up in otherwise sleepy games. There’s also a bit of offensive upside for a fourth line-type player with five goals and nine points with 22 penalty minutes and a plus-eight rating in 19 games for the P-Bruins this season. 

It remains to be seen if the Blidh call-up means that the Bruins intend to scratch a player or that somebody is questionable for Saturday afternoon’s game in Buffalo, but Patrice Bergeron did miss Friday’s practice without any real defined reason for his absence. The 21-year-old Swede said he plans to play to his strengths if he gets into the lineup for the Black and Gold, and that could mean getting under the skin of his Sabres opponents. 

“It’s my first time called up, so I’m happy,” said Blidh, who was asked what he'll bring if he gets into the lineup. “I’ll just play simple and play my own game: be hard on the puck and play with some energy. I worked hard [in Providence] and then I got some confidence. I’m not a goal-scorer, but I scored a couple of goals and got some confidence.”

Claude Julien hasn’t been able to catch up Blidh’s work since the season got started, but was pleased by the youngster’s progress in training camp, where he earned notice for his feisty, physical play on a line with Noel Acciari. 

“They said he’s playing well, so they brought him up. We’ll get to see him, hopefully tomorrow,” said Julien. “I didn’t hear a ton of fine details aside from him being a guy that was certainly playing with a lot of energy. I didn’t mind him in training camp either. He works really hard and competes hard, and we could use that.”

That would certainly be the case after watching the Bruins go through the motions for long stretches Thursday night against Carolina before essentially stealing a game that they didn’t deserve to win. 

Friday, Dec. 2: Toews vs. Matthews

Friday, Dec. 2: Toews vs. Matthews

Here are all the links from around the hockey world and what I’m reading, while everybody in New England is in mourning over the latest Gronk booboo. 

*A pretty neat sharpshooting video with Jonathan Toews and that young whippersnapper Auston Matthews squaring off against each other. 

*Craig Custance looks a little deeper into the situation with the Florida Panthers and how things are stabilizing after the rough firing of Gerard Gallant last week. 

*Now. let’s get to the real important stuff: the San Jose Sharks website has put together their Movember rankings for the player’s mustaches. 

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Bruce Garrioch says that the plans for an outdoor game in Ottawa are again back on the NHL’s agenda. 

*Erik Erlendsson has put together a “Lightning Insider” website where you can find all the latest news about the Tampa Bay franchise. Check it out. 

*As guys such as Anton Khudobin prove when they’re thrust into the starting spot, backup goalies matter in today’s NHL. 

*For something completely different: a mash-up of Kylo Ren and “Girls” from the mad mind of Adam Driver is exactly just that.