Neely: We need a philosophical change on the power play


Neely: We need a philosophical change on the power play

BOSTON -- If theres one specific topic of conversation for improvement when it comes to the Bruins, its the power play.

They finished middle of the road during the year in power-play percentage, but limped to a 2-for-23 performance in their first-round playoff loss to the Washington Capitals. This came on the heels of an 0-for-21 against the Montreal Canadiens in the first round last year, in spite of which the Bruins somehow managed to win in seven games.

Thats a 4.5 power-play success rate over the last two years in the first round. Excluding the Stanley Cup Finals, the Bruins are 7-for-84 (8.3 percent) over the last two years in the postseason, and Bruins management finally admits that something has to give.

We got away with an ineffective power play last year," said team president Cam Neely Thursday in management's postmortem with the media. "This year it kind of bit us in the butt.

"We need to have a philosophical difference in how we look at the power play. I dont just look at the percentages when it comes to the power play. I look at when we get them, when we score on them and what time in the game they are coming for us. I think we have the personnel to improve on the power play. There are some things . . . we can do different, but its an area that absolutely needs improving. Well be discussing that in the offseason.

Nobody was talking about pink slips for the coach designing Bostons oft-stagnant power play, Geoff Ward, or making wholesale personnel changes. But Neely indicated there absolutely will be internal discussions on the matter, with plenty of time in the spring and summer to discuss strategy.

Its something Im going to leave internally for now, but its something that can be better, said Neely. The player personnel, I think, is strong. You look at the regular season and it was an area that was okay. But at the end of the year we started falling off and we could never right the ship.

Its an area where the players need to take as much responsibility as the coaching staff because its a privilege to be on the power play. Its certainly an area of the game that can make a difference between winning and losing.

In losing seven one-goal games for the first time in NHL Stanley Cup playoff history this year, the Bruins now know exactly what kind of difference a fully operational power play can make.

Backes: Most of the talk has me playing center for Bruins

Backes: Most of the talk has me playing center for Bruins

David Backes on the Felger and Mazz show on 98.5 The Sports Hub, and simulcast on CSN, tells fill-in hosts Jim Murray and Greg Dickerson there has also been some discussion with the Bruins of putting him on the wing with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand.

Watch the video above for more. 

Bruins lose Stempniak, Eriksson, others in free agency


Bruins lose Stempniak, Eriksson, others in free agency

The Bruins lost a number of free agents on after the market opened at noontime. None bigger than Loui Eriksson signing a six-year, $36 million contract with the Vancouver Canucks to play with the Sedin Twins.

It’s the exact level of term and salary that Eriksson said he was looking for from the Bruins in contract negotiations around the trade deadline, but the Bruins never really moved from their offer of a four-year deal at comparable money.

The Bruins will miss the 30-goal production and solid all-around, two-way play from Eriksson as he heads to the West Coast, but they also traded in a passive player in Eriksson for an in-your-face, physical leader in David Backes on a five-year deal. 

Backes is much more of a Bruins-style player than Eriksson could have ever hoped to have been. That part of it is a win for a Bruins fan base that wants intensity and physicality from their players.

The Bruins also watched Jonas Gustavsson sign a one-year, $800,000 contract with Peter Chiarelli and the Edmonton Oilers, Brett Connolly sign a one-year deal for $850,000 with the Washington Capitals, Zach Trotman signs a one-year deal for $950,000 and Lee Stempniak ink a two-year, $5 million contract with the Carolina Hurricanes after being a non-contract training camp invite with New Jersey last season.

Sweeney had maintained as late as Thursday that he was still keeping ties with many of Boston’s free agents prior to the noon opening of the free agent market, but clearly that’s changed.

“We’ll continue to have talks and sort of figure out where things may go. We’ve had talks with a number of players to see what they would like to see as the opportunity here or what we see as a fit,” said Sweeney on the Torey Krug conference call on Thursday night. “I haven’t ruled absolutely any of that out; just haven’t found common ground and obviously it gets harder and harder as we go further along in the process.”