Julien: Power-play critics need to 'take a breath'

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Julien: Power-play critics need to 'take a breath'

WILMINGTON, Mass. The streak remained alive Sunday as Claude Julien was once again asked about the struggling Bruins power play following practice on Ristuccia Arena. The Bs man advantage is now ranked 29th in the NHL after getting out to a 1-for-17 start, and is only behind the Los Angeles Kings that have started out a putrid 0-for-23 on the season.

The Bruins practiced with their top two PP units on Sunday before leaving on a flight to Carolina for the start of back-to-back games against the Hurricanes and New Jersey Devils on Monday and Tuesday, respectively. Dennis Seidenberg wasnt entered back into the mix on the second PP unit after coming back from injury Dougie Hamilton and Rich Peverley have been manning the points on the second unit for the last three games and Julien preached patience just one week into the season.

Given the Bruins track record with the power play crapping out in the playoffs in each of the last two seasons, thats a pretty special request. David Krejci probably should have been credited for a power play goal but a video replay ruled no goal against the Rangers, and both Nathan Horton and Tyler Seguin have clanged posts on power-play scoring chances.

But the Bruins have also had entire two minute power play possessions in the last two games where there wasnt a single fired at the net, and the enthusiasm seemed to be flagging within the units skaters.

I thought Id be able to get away for at least one day without a power play question, said Julien. The results havent been there, but Id say in three of the four games that we moved the puck well, we hit a post and we had a goal disallowed. A lot of stuff has happened.

I could throw a lot of things at you whether it was LA winning last year without a good power play or Tampa Bay not even practicing the power play this year because they know you cant win a Cup without strong five-on-five play. But I think people need to step back and maybe take a breath a little bit . . . and not make a mountain out of a power play. We want it to work well, but its not the end of the world. Were still winning hockey games.

Its true that the Bruins and Kings made it two straight Stanley Cup champs that survived the postseason gauntlet without a high-functioning power play, and whatever the Lightning are doing is working because theyve got five PP goals in 20 tries this season. But then again they also boast Steve Stamkos cranking one-timers from the face-off dot, so perhaps that makes practicing a little less important for their special teams unit.

But the expectation is that names like Tyler Seguin, Hamilton, Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, Milan Lucic and Krejci involved in the Bs man advantage will eventually perform up to their potential, and turn the bright scrutiny of the spotlight elsewhere.

We hope with time that well get some of the results that we havent received so far, said Julien.

For now the Bruins are hanging their hat on a perfect 17-for-17 mark in killing penalties as well, so one dominant special teams unit is covering for the other one while the PP performers get their swagger back. Unfortunately theres no telling when that will be for a Bs power play unit that doesnt get the benefit of the doubt after the way things have looked over the last two years.

Morning Skate: Sabres' Okposo back on the ice

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Morning Skate: Sabres' Okposo back on the ice

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while officially in the Dead Zone of the NHL offseason.

*A great sight to see is Buffalo Sabres forward Kyle Okposo taking the ice in a summer league in Minnesota after a health scare at the end of last season.

*Nolan Patrick might be fresh off abdominal surgery, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to be rushed if he plays for the Flyers.

*Here’s an offseason power ranking of the offseason moves for the NHL teams, and the Bruins rank 28th out of 31 teams with the organization being “stuck” in the estimation of this writer. I don’t disagree that they’re kind of paralyzed right now until David Pastrnak signs an extension, with other things being held up because of that. The Paul Postma and Kenny Agostino signings were about as small time as you can get on July 1. But the Bruins’ goal for this summer wasn’t to win in the offseason moves department, but instead continue to let their interesting mix of young players and established veterans grow into an effective mix. Winning the offseason power rankings really isn’t the thing for the Black and Gold, and that’s perfectly okay given their situation.

*There’s a wide gap between the Detroit Red Wings and Tomas Tatar with salary arbitration looming.

*It’s a good thing that Barstool Sports is here to ask the really tough questions, like whether Jaromir Jagr is being treated unfairly by NHL teams because of his hair.

*PHT writer James O’Brien has Johnny Gaudreau really high on the window for the Calgary Flames to compete over the next three years with the young, talented group they have in place.  

*Nico Hischier is looking to be a playmaking force for the New Jersey Devils right off the bat after being the No. 1 overall pick in Jersey.

*A slew of soon-to-be college sophomores starred in development camps across the NHL and showed what they learned at the NCAA level.

*Classy tweet from the Arizona Coyotes wishing war hero and distinguished statesman John McCain well in his battle with brain cancer.

*Players that are on AHL contracts will be allowed to participate in the Winter Olympics this season. While the loss of NHL participation would be a difficult blow to the Olympics and fans, part of me is happy that some of these AHL guys will get to experience playing for their country when they might not have been able to otherwise.  

*For something completely different: Paul Pierce sees some very good things with first-round pick Jayson Tatum, but he’ll need to see “killer instinct” from the Celtics rookie for him to live up to the Pierce comparisons.

 

AHL allowing players on minor-league deals to go to Olympics

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AHL allowing players on minor-league deals to go to Olympics

Players on American Hockey League contracts will be eligible to play in the 2018 Winter Olympics.

President and CEO David Andrews confirmed through a league spokesman Wednesday that teams were informed they could loan players on AHL contracts to national teams for the purposes of participating in the Pyeongchang Olympics.

The AHL sent a memo to its 30 clubs saying players could only be loaned for Olympic participation from Feb. 5-26.

The Olympic men's hockey tournament runs from Feb. 9-25. Like the NHL, which is not having its players participate for the first time since 1994, the AHL does not have an Olympic break in its schedule.

The AHL's decision does not affect players assigned to that league on NHL one- or two-way contracts. No final decision has been made about those players.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly denied a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation report that the league had told its 31 teams that AHL players could be loaned to play in the Olympics. It was an AHL memo sent at the direction of that league's board of governors.

When the NHL announced in April that it wouldn't be sending players to South Korea after participating in five consecutive Olympics, Andrews said the AHL was prepared for Canada, the United States and other national federations to request players.

"I would guess we're going to lose a fair number of players," Andrews said in April. "Not just to Canada and the U.S., but we're going to lose some players to other teams, as well. But we're used to that. Every team in our league has usually got two or three guys who are on recalls to the NHL, so it's not going to really change our competitive integrity or anything else."

The U.S. and Canada are expected to rely heavily on players in European professional leagues and college and major junior hockey to fill out Olympic rosters without NHL players.