By Joe Haggerty
TORONTO The Bruins have only two goals to show for their last 31 times on the power play, and it wasnt supposed to be like this at all.
Things were supposed to immediately improve on the power play once Tomas Kaberle arrived on the scene at the end of February, and that hasnt happened at all. The sweet-passing defenseman has worked the point deftly on the power play and created action, but its entirely possible the Bs man advantage might be even worse than it was before Kaberles arrival in terms of production.
Both of Bostons recent power play goals have come against the dregs of the Eastern Conference in Ottawa and New York, and its no understatement to say that the power play outage has emerged as one of the biggest warning signs with the Black and Gold.
Bs coach Claude Julien has tried any manner of things to fix the man advantage: hes mixed and matched, hes stripped guys of their power play time, hes inserted Tyler Seguin back into the power play and hes gone with three different power play units to engender some competition.
A fruitless five-minute power play against the Predators after Patric Hornqvists elbowing major allowed Nashville to stay in the game, and served as another missed opportunity for the Black and Gold. It was the perfect example of the PPs inability to keep momentum, create momentum or steal momentum from their opponents when special teams' rears its head.
Its about going out there and just playing. Taking what theyre giving us. I think at this point we might be thinking a little too much out there, said Patrice Bergeron. The movement is great. Were moving it good and getting some chances. At this point its about burying them.
So far nothing has sparked the power play units, and its become much more than a hindrance at this point. The Bruins lose momentum each time they go on the power play against hungry teams, and its the exact opposite of its purpose.
Bruins assistant captain Patrice Bergeron said it comes down to working with what the defense is giving while on the power play, and that appears to be letting everyone else aside from Zdeno Chara beat them on special teams.
That means PK units are sagging off Tomas Kaberle while seemingly unworried about his abilities to shoot the puck, and daring any of the forwards to beat them down low.
You cant let frustration get to your game. Youve got to keep pushing, said Bergeron. Our power play is going to be huge in the playoffs, and weve got to find that groove before we get there.
We also cant let it all fall on Kaberle. Obviously hes great and moving the puck so well out there. Hes really opening things up out there and I think our power play has improved quite a bit since hes gotten here. Just the movement of the puck up top and all that stuff has improved. I dont think its about him turning things around by himself. Its about all five of us getting together and making it happen.
The Bruins have dropped all the way to 21st in the NHL with a 16.5 percent success rate on the power play, and will need to do a lot better than that if theyre looking for a long, fruitful run through the postseason.
Saturday nights game against the Toronto Maple Leafs concludes their final multi-game road trip of the regular season, and the Bs will have three consecutive home games following the weekend tilt at the Air Canada Centre.
The Bs will pay tribute to Bruins legendary radio personality Bob Wilson on Saturday, March 26 during the BruinsRangers game at the TD Garden. At 11:30 a.m., the Bruins will dedicate their home radio broadcast booth to Wilson by renaming it the "Bob Wilson Radio Booth." The Bruins will also install a silver microphone encased in a black and gold frame on the TD Gardens level 9 faade beneath the home radio broadcast booth, which will be permanently displayed. Wilson recently celebrated his 82nd birthday on Wednesday, March 9.
In the 13 games since a 6-3 win at the New York Islanders on February 17, the Bruins top line of Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Nathan Horton has been pacing the Bs offense. Since the start of that game, the line has combined for 16 goals and 43 total points. Of the 43 points, Krejci. (4 goals, 13 assists), Lucic (6 goals, 9 assists) and Horton have (6 goals, 9 assists) all equally contributed to the lines success.