The Bruins are a team without many glaring weaknesses.
After all, you dont win the Cup without considerable strengths that are able to overshadow every little point of weakness on a hockey club.
But the Bs power play is no longer a puny little weakness. A huge, gaping hole and profound problem would be better ways to describe a special teams unit that continues to fail the Black and Gold when it matters most.
Its a major problem to be reckoned with this summer by the Bs decision-makers.
Its also one of the single biggest reasons the Bruins playoff bubble burst after losing four one-goal games in an incredibly tight seven-game first round series. The Bruins were 2-for-23 on the PP during this years battle with the Washington Capitals, and are an obscenely bad 2-for-44 in the first round over the last two years.
Thats a grotesque 4.5 percent success rate that even Ripley wouldnt believe if werent unequivocally true.
Bruins President Cam Neely admitted the need for a change in philosophy when it comes to the power play next season. That includes adjustments from the coaching staff and the players, and more importantly results.
We got away with it last year as everybody knows. This year, it kind of bit us in the butt. We really need to have a philosophical difference in how we look at the power play. I dont just look at the percentage of the power play, I look at when we get power plays, what the score of the game is, and what time of the game isthats important, said Neely. Maybe more so important than what the actual percentage of the power play is. I think we have the personnel that we can improve on the power play. There are some things well certainly discuss in the offseason about what we can do differently with the power play. I think its an area that absolutely needs improvement and we will improve on it.
Neely wants more movement and more life to a power play that becomes all-too predictable when it simply revolves around generating big shots from Zdeno Chara at the point. There isnt enough of a Marc Savard-like presence off the half-wall that can shoot, create offense by rushing the net or pass with the kind of lethal scoring ability that can keep opposing coaches up at night.
Its something were going to keep internal right now, but I just know it can better, said Neely when asked whether it was the coaching or player personnel he held as the culprit behind the power plays struggles. The player personnel is strong. Dont get me wrong. Its an area where we were okay during the regular season, but we started to fall off in the players and couldnt right the ship.
Its an area where players have to take responsibility as much 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. I watch a lot of hockey and a lot of power plays. What I see is a lot of movement. Obviously its about getting pucks down low, but its also about getting that puck movement and making the penalty killers work hard. When I look at good power plays thats what I see coming out of it.
Savard averaged 37 power play points a season for the Bruins during his first three years in Boston.
The leading power play guy this year for the Bruins was Zdeno Chara with 18 points, and Nathan Horton ranked third on the team in power play goals despite missing the final 36 games of the season.
Its one area where David Krejci has been a disappointment since first cracking the NHL despite a skill set that seems made for it.
Krejci appeared ready to replace Savards magical touch on the man advantage when concussions finally got the better of him, but that hasnt happened in three years. The Bruins PP has been run-of-the-mill at best, and an anchor dragging them down at its worst moments.
Perhaps it will be Tyler Seguin that finally breathes life into the unit with a versatile, elite set of offensive skills and the burgeoning experience and confidence needed to be a power play ace. Or maybe the Bruins can bring in an outside free agent influence like Zach Parise or Ryan Sutter to perk up the Bs man advantage.
Parise would have led the Bs with nine power play goals scored during the regular season, and Suters 25 points for the NHLs top-ranked power play unit blew away anybody on the Black and Gold.
But its not a difficult trick to make the Bs power play look so bad.
The challenge this summer is to make it something that will win the Bruins a playoff game or two next time around, and that will be doubly difficult if its the same group of players manning the unit next year.