BOSTON – The Bruins aren’t about to go into a full blown special teams panic after one game, but it certainly didn’t go unnoticed that the Bruins allowed a pair of Montreal power play goals in their 4-3 Game 1 loss at TD Garden. The Bruins penalty kill unit did a marvelous job in holding the Detroit Red Wings to a 2-for-20 performance on the man advantage in the recently concluded five game series.
The Habs potted as many power play goals against the Bruins in Game 1 as the mighty Winged Wheels did in the entire first round series. That leaves the Bruins with a 19-for-23 success rate in the postseason, which is still a pretty good 82.6 percent kill rate for the Stanley Cup playoffs.
But the Bruins need to do something about P.K. Subban, who scored both of Montreal’s power play strikes with point shots through varying degrees of traffic in front of the net. Tuukka Rask blamed himself for the game-winning Habs score in double overtime, but it was on the B’s penalty killers to block a first period Subban wrist shot that managed to sail past him.
Subban is a power play quarterback for Montreal, and it’s virtually impossible to push him into different areas on the man advantage while his speed and firebrand ways are still very much intact.
“We need to do a better job boxing out, blocking shots, and disturbing their entries, you know, by doing a better job on our forecheck,” said Patrice Bergeron. “That’s all.”
Several Bruins bodies were between Subban’s seemingly harmless wrist shot from the point and the net, but none of them were able to knock down the Montreal defenseman’s shot attempt. But it's also not the first point that the former Norris Trophy winner has stung opponents with his hard clapper from the point.
Claude Julien indicated that blocking some of those shots – or closing down the lanes to shoot – will be a renewed priority with the Boston penalty kill, and be in effect for this weekend’s second game.
“There’s no panic here. It’s Game No. 1 here. Obviously, P.K. Subban’s got a good shot from the point and we’ve got to do a better job of fronting him,” said Julien. “But our penalty kill’s been through a lot this year, and we still have confidence in it.”
In addition to allowed the Canadiens to score on two of their power play chances on Thursday night, the Bruins went 0-for-2 on the power play in the kind of abysmal special teams evening that can bring back bad memories for Boston.
The Bruins penalty did get some good news for Thursday’s game with the return of Daniel Paille to the special teams unit, but that didn’t stop Montreal from winning the special teams battle in Game 1.