Haggerty: Sans Savard, power play lacks results

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Haggerty: Sans Savard, power play lacks results

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

BOSTON Its certainly not time to panic in a period of adjustment for the Bruins, but theres been a troubling trend since Marc Savard suffered a head shot two weeks ago in Colorado.

The man advantage maestro and power play passer extraordinaire has missed exactly five games since suffering the fourth concussion of his NHL career -- and the Bruins havent scored a power play goal in any of the games since Savard got dinged.

The Bruins are 0-for-12 in those five games sans Savard sandwiched around the All-Star break, and zero goals in their last 13 power plays dating back to the final chance of their blowout win over the Avs.

Our power play tonight had a tough time against the Sharks, said Claude Julien. Tonight was probably one of the tougher times that weve had at getting the puck in. When we did get it in we werent winning the battles for loose pucks and they kept shooting it back down the ice.

That was probably to me the biggest difference in tonights game.

Power play numbers can be deceiving in small sample sizes like the five games without Savard, but there was no mistaking how badly the Bruins were outcoached and outmuscled in the special teams area Saturday afternoon.

The Savard-less Bruins managing just a single shot on four power play chances in their 2-0 loss to the San Jose Sharks on Saturday afternoon.

I think we had a little bit of a problem with our breakout, said Krejci, alluding to the San Jose penalty killers disrupting the Bruins carrying the puck through the neutral zone during the man advantage. They did a good job with their PK. We had a couple of good chances.

Milan Lucic had the best power play chance of the night in the first period when he camped out by the left post, and had the rebound of a Zdeno Chara point shot land on his stick. The upper half of the net was wide open with Antti Niemi spread out between posts down low, but Lucic missed wide right with his shot.

It was a wrap for the Bruins man advantage following Lucics near miss in one of the more unimpressive showings of the season.

Looch had a good one at a tough angle, but it was a good scoring chance. So there were some good chances, but we need to play in the offensive zone way more than we did on the power play, said Krejci. We had a really tough time getting it in. Traffic could have been a little better. It was there at times, and then at other times we had good traffic and Kampfer just missed it up there and couldnt get it through.

Then there were some good shots from the point and we didnt have any traffic in front then. Thats got to change in the dirty areas. Some points we did it and some other points we didnt, but weve got to get to the point where were doing it all the time.

There were a series of valid excuses as to why the power play didnt anything accomplished, but all that matters is special teams stood as the main reason the Bruins couldnt take down a streaking Sharks team thats 7-0-1 in their last eight games.

The bottom line for the Bs is they couldnt produce momentum or points in an offensively lifeless battle.

Krejci is one of the players looked at to keep the power play thriving from the half wall position that Savard turned into an art form with his passing and vision, and both he and his teammates admitted they need to start providing a little more oomph and crispness to a power play. It was clear the San Jose coaching staff watched the Bruins play at the Garden in person on Thursday night, and the Bruins coaching staff need to adjust more quickly when they noticed the more aggressive fore-check that disrupted Bostons power play breakout.

That led to the Bruins putting up only one shot on net in four power play chances, and plummeting Bruins confidence on the PP once their final power play arrived in the third period in a one-goal game that was still winnable.

I think they kind of gave us fits on the power play sometimes. They were giving us pressure and were not really used to getting pressure, said Blake Wheeler. I think that kind of threw us off maybe a little bit.

But I think we were ready with our adjustments, we just couldnt get the puck flat and we couldnt move it the way we wanted to.

One thing is certain: Savard isnt walking through that door anytime soon with his skates and hockey bag ready to again inject life into the man advantage.

Thats an adjustment the Bruins wont be able to make.

So the Bruins need to find answers within the personnel and the dry-erase board if theyre hoping to be victorious in playoff-style battles against teams like the Shark down the stretch.

No power play equals no chance in the NHL once the competition meter has been dialed up down the stretch and into the playoffs.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Morning Skate: Do Caps have mental block come playoff time?

Morning Skate: Do Caps have mental block come playoff time?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while thinking about and praying for the people of Manchester, England. It’s obviously an evil, cowardly act to bomb any public place, but to do it at a concert filled with women and children is the lowest of the low.

*The Capitals players are acknowledging that there’s some kind of mental block with the Stanley Cup playoffs. CSN Mid-Atlantic has all the details.

*It’s been a very odd postseason for the NHL where there are so many non-traditional teams still alive with the Nashville Predators in the Stanley Cup Fina, and the Ottawa Senators fighting for their lives in the Eastern Conference Final. On that note, there is a ton of disappointment at the empty seats at the Canadian Tire Centre for Ottawa’s home games in the playoffs. It sounds like there are going to be empty seats tonight for a do-or-die Game 6 in Ottawa. That is an embarrassment for a Canadian city that’s supposed to pride itself on their love of hockey. Let’s hope the Senators fans have a last-minute surge to buy tickets and show some appreciation for a Senators team that’s given the Ottawa fans a totally unexpected ride through the postseason this spring. I mean, Erik Karlsson at the top of his game is worth the price of admission all by himself.  

*The Pittsburgh Penguins have the Senators on the ropes, and it’s been an impressive showing given that they’re doing it without Kris Letang.

*Pro Hockey Talk has the ownership for the St. Louis Blues giving their GM Doug Armstrong a vote of confidence.

*Another early exit from the playoffs is going to start making some players expendable on the New York Rangers roster.

*Here’s a good piece on how David Poile built the Nashville Predators, who have reached the Stanley Cup Final for the first time. Give credit where it’s due: He manned up and made a big move dealing away Shea Weber straight up for PK Subban. It’s really worked for Music City as they’ve stepped to the next level.

*Speaking of Nashville’s rise this spring in a wide open Western Conference, Pekka Rinne has silenced the critics he might have had by carrying his team to the Cup Final.

*For something completely different: Boston law enforcement is on high alert after the bombing of the Ariana Grande concert in the UK.

 

Haggerty: Reports of Seidenberg's demise were greatly exaggerated

Haggerty: Reports of Seidenberg's demise were greatly exaggerated

Hindsight is always 20/20, of course, but it appears the Bruins made a mistake buying out veteran defenseman Dennis Seidenberg from the final couple of years of his contract. 

Seidenberg just finished up a wildly successful stint with host Team Germany at the IIHF World Championships, where he was named Directorate Best Defenseman (the tournament’s best defenseman) after leading all D-men with a goal and eight points. This came after Seidenberg, at age 35, posted 5 goals and 22 points in 73 games for the Islanders, with whom he signed after being cut loose by the B's, while averaging a shade under 20 minutes per game.  Seidenberg also had an excellent World Cup of Hockey tournament for Team Europe last summer (where he was teamed once again with Zdeno Chara), thus managing to play at a high level from September all the way through May.

A faction of Bruins fans thought he was on the serious decline after the 2015-16 season and, clearly, the Bruins agreed, opting to buy him out with two more years still left on a sizable contract extension. (They owe him $2.16 million next season and then will be charged $1.16 million on their salary cap over the next two seasons.) But the B's could have used a durable, defensive warrior like Seidenberg in the playoffs, when they lost three of their top four defensemen against the Ottawa Senators. A rejuvenated Seidenberg, able to play both the left and right side, would have been a better option than Colin Miller.

The Bruins made a conscious decision to hand things over to younger defensemen like Miller, Torey Krug, Brandon Carlo and Joe Morrow in cutting ties with Seidenberg. But they also perhaps miscalculated how much Seidenberg still had left in the tank after his best season in at least three years. 

“Well, at the time we felt like [Seidenberg's] game had really dropped off to where we thought he couldn’t contribute, and we wanted to see if some younger players could come in and help us out,” Bruins president Cam Neely said at the end-of-the-season press conference earlier this month. “I’ve got to say he played well this year for Long Island. But at the time we thought it was the right move. You can’t envision us having three of our top four D’s get hurt [in the playoffs]. We went through a lot of D’s in the postseason. You can’t predict that.”

Neely is referring to the decision made after Seidenberg’s second straight minus season in Boston, when back injuries and a major knee injury had seemed to slow him down a bit. It seemed the only way to properly evaluate some of their other, younger defenseman was to cut Seidenberg loose, but one has to wonder if the Bruins would have possibly done it had they known he was still capable of playing like he did this season for the Islanders. 

Either way, the buyout of Seidenberg is an extremely legitimate second guess of Bruins management in a year where they did a lot of things right.