Bruins getting gritty on faulty power play

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Bruins getting gritty on faulty power play

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

WILMINGTON The Bruins are 0-for-13 on the power play dating back to the Saturday afternoon when Marc Savard went down in Colorado, and those adjustments along with Jordan Carons role within the lineup became very clear after Tuesdays practice at Ristuccia Arena.The Bruins moved Mark Recchi to the point of the top power-play unit with Zdeno Chara on the other side. Patrice Bergeron and Milan Lucic were camped down low, with David Krejci working the half-wall position normally occupied by Savard.The second unit had a very different look with Dennis Seidenberg and Steve Kampfer working the points, and both Brad Marchand and Gregory Campbell joining Michael Ryder off the half-wall.
The point, according to coach Claude Julien, was to add some grit and toughness to the power play while also placing Recchis calming influence at one of the point spots on the top PP unit.Its a function of still trying to make our power play better, said Julien. While our last game was one when you could say you werent pleased with the power play, we had a hard time getting it into the zone and we lost our share of battles once we did get it in.Weve kind of tweaked our personnel around and hope that we get better in that regard. Thats something that since the beginning of the year weve really been working hard to turn around to make it better. We put a plan together, but you have to make sure if youre one of our best players that youre at your best.The Bruins are tied with the Ottawa Senators for 20th in the NHL with a 16.8 percent success rate on the power play, and its seemed that all year the man advantage has had problems achieving consistency and at no point has really felt like a dangerous unit ready to strike at any second.With that in mind, it appears Julien is taking a bit of the roll up the sleeves approach and will instead put a couple of grinders out on the second PP unit to force the puck into the net rather than try finessing it in.
Conspicuous by his absence on either power play unit is Nathan Horton, who only got some PP time in practice when Johnny Boychuks chip attempt caught Bergeron in the chin.Were one of those teams that continue to work on that part of the game, said Julien, who admitted that the Bruins will open Wednesdays game vs. Montreal with the PP alignments from practice. What you saw is something youll see. Maybe we need a little bit more grit and a few more shots from the back end and maybe itll work with that.We feel like weve had some issues taking pucks off the wall near the blue line and making plays under pressure, and Recchi is one of those guys thats been pretty good in that area the few times weve used him there. If we dont try it, then well never know.Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Haggerty: Trade flurry makes Bruins' road to the playoffs more slippery

Haggerty: Trade flurry makes Bruins' road to the playoffs more slippery

Don Sweeney and the Bruins aren’t expected to be big players Wednesday at the NHL trade deadline, understandable since they've won six of seven under interim coach Bruce Cassidy.

But they might be feeling a little more pressure to do something as many Atlantic Division teams -- and Eastern Conference ones, for that matter -- are making moves.

The biggest headline-grabber occurred out of division as the Washington Capitals shipped a first-round pick, two forwards and a conditional second-round pick to the St. Louis Blues for defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk and a young goaltender. Shattenkirk will turn the already explosive Capitals into a strong Stanley Cup contender, maybe even the favorite. And the pressure's on for them to deliver, since it’s expected the 28-year-old All-Star will head to the New York Rangers in free agency this summer. 

Shattenkirk had been linked to the Bruins in the past but they weren’t about to pay that exorbitant a price for a rental, not while they're still more rebuilder than contender even as they push for the playoffs. Moreover, the Bruins weren’t going to do a sign-and-trade for a player who's going to command a seven-year, $49 million deal on the open market and would ostensibly be blocking the top-4 development of both Brandon Carlo and Charlie McAvoy as stud, right shot D-men. 

Instead, expect the Bruins to invest heavily over the next year in a potential top pairing left-side defenseman who could eventually step in for Zdeno Chara. 

The highest impact moves that concerned the Bruins during Monday’s flurry of activity, however, were the divisional teams they’re competing with direction for playoff spots:

-- The Maple Leafs made a sneaky big move in shipping out a second-round pick to Tampa Bay for gritty, battle-tested, third-line center Brian Boyle, who will bring size, sandpaper and character to a young Toronto team pushing for the playoffs. 

-- Ottawa sent a prospect to Vancouver for bad boy Alex Burrows, whose claim to fame is biting Patrice Bergeron during the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals. The Senators and Bruins wplay each other three times in Boston’s final 20 games in the kind of matchup that could dictate the playoff fate for both clubs, and Burrows' cheap-shot antics will undoubtedly make the Sens a tougher team to play down the stretch. 

-- The Canadiens shored up their defense group by adding Dallas D-man Jordie Benn in exchange for young defenseman Greg Pateryn and a fourth-round pick. They did so before pulling off an important, come-from-behind win over the Devils on Monday night. 

The Bruins woke up Tuesday morning still holding their third-place spot in the Atlantic Division and still very much in control of their own destiny. But there’s no denying Boston’s competitors have all improved themselves. The gauntlet has been passed to Sweeney and the Bruins to do something smart for the long haul, but to also improve right now if the right deal presents itself. 

That could mean dealing off veteran players like Matt Beleskey or John-Michael Liles if there’s an interested party. It could mean picking up a cheap rental like Radim Vrbata or Dmitry Kulikov if the price is right. Or it could mean standing pat and not messing with a team playing its best hockey of the season. 

One thing is clear: Monday's moves have increased the Bruins' degree of difficulty for ending their two-year playoff drought. 
 

Bergeron: Julien to Habs 'definitely a surprise'

Bergeron: Julien to Habs 'definitely a surprise'

Patrice Bergeron said Tuesday on Toucher & Rich that he sent Claude Julien a text congratulating him on getting a new job with the Canadiens. Asked then by Fred Toucher whether he secretly celebrated that Julien might ruin Montreal’s season, Bergeron opted not to respond. 

Jokes aside, Bergeron said that while he figured that Julien would get a head-coaching job after his dismissal from the Bruins, he was surprised to see it happen in Montreal.

“It was definitely a surprise, especially that quickly,” Bergeron said. “I knew he was going to turn around and find another job somewhere in the NHL. I didn’t know if it was going to be, I don’t know if it was a week or less than a week.” 

Julien coached Bergeron for parts of 10 seasons in Boston. He is 3-2-0 thus far in his second stint with the Habs. 

“I was surprised, but at the same time, I wish him all the best,” Bergeron said. “At the same time, it’s tough to do when it’s in Montreal.”