Bruins notes: Power play continues to flounder

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Bruins notes: Power play continues to flounder

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

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.

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

Sources: Bruins engaged in trade talks involving Ryan Spooner

Sources: Bruins engaged in trade talks involving Ryan Spooner

This probably won’t come as a complete shock to those watching the way things have played out with him this season, but the Bruins have engaged in discussions with multiple teams about a Ryan Spooner trade, per multiple sources with knowledge of the situation. 

The 23-year-old Spooner was mentioned casually a few months ago as possible fodder in a Jacob Trouba deal with the Winnipeg Jets, but that deal never really materialized prior to the Jets signing their young, frontline D-man to a two-year deal. The Carolina Hurricanes, New York Islanders and San Jose Sharks have all expressed interest in Spooner, per one hockey source, as it appears that things simply aren’t going to work out for him in Boston. 

It’s been a challenging year for Spooner with pedestrian numbers of three goals and eight points in 24 games, but there are plenty of mitigating circumstances behind the slow start. Spooner has been pushed into playing left wing for the bulk of the season rather than his natural, preferred center position, and he’s been dropped to the fourth line by Claude Julien over the last few weeks. At times he’s also been pulled from the Bruins power play where he racked up six goals and 17 points working off the half-wall last season.  

Julien talked about the former second round pick in frank terms after this week’s win over the Carolina Hurricanes, which featured a Spooner snipe to the top corner during a successful shootout for the Black and Gold. 

“I think at times that [David Krejci] line goes quiet, other times it’s better. We’ve tried different guys on the left side right now and one [Spooner] might give them speed but doesn’t win as many battles,” said Julien of his search for stability at left wing alongside Krejci and David Backes. “The other way [with Tim Schaller] guys are a little harder right now, and they spend more time in the O-zone. So we’re really trying hard to find the right balance there.”

Trade talks have increased the past few weeks because A) the situation has worsened recently with Spooner’s prolonged stint as a miscast fourth line winger and B) the speedy, skilled forward will most likely be a man without a spot when 22-year-old left winger Frank Vatrano returns sometime around the mid-December range. 

According to one source, the Bruins are asking for a “top six forward” in exchange for a package including Spooner, and it’s a lead pipe certainty they’re looking for some goal-scoring given their 24th ranked offense this season. That represents a bit of an organizational sea change after the Bruins searched low and high for a top-4 defenseman in trade over the summer. The emergence of 20-year-old Brandon Carlo, and the Boston defense’s performance across the board, has lowered the Black and Gold’s priority list need to trade for a D-man. 

The Bruins have scored two goals or fewer in 18 of their 25 games this season and badly need somebody that can put the puck in the net from one of the wing positions. Unfortunately for the Bruins, there aren’t a lot of top-6 forwards readily available that could make an immediate impact. It’s highly doubtful any team is going to fork one over for an asset like Spooner that’s been downgraded due to the way he’s been utilized by the Bruins this season. He hasn't played with the same creativity or confidence this season after posting 13 goals and 49 points as their third line center last season. 

So it remains to be seen what the Bruins will get for Spooner after they offered him and a draft pick to Buffalo for rental forward Chris Stewart a couple of years ago. That was a deal Sabres GM Tim Murray turned down before trading Stewart for considerably less at the trade deadline.

The bottom line: the Bruins are working the phones discussing possible Spooner deals, and it feels like there is some motivation from B’s management to move a player that doesn’t seem like he'll ever be a proper fit in Julien’s system. 

Sunday Dec. 4: Zacha adjusting to life in the NHL

Sunday Dec. 4: Zacha adjusting to life in the NHL

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while marveling at the Bruins setting a franchise record this season for fewest practices in a regular season. Thanks compacted schedule due to the World Cup!

*Pavel Zacha is adjusting to life as a rookie in the NHL with the New Jersey Devils, and things are getting better as they go along.

*Manitoba Moose players relive their favorite Star Wars moments prior to the team holding their Star Wars Night.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Elliotte Friedman sits down with new Florida Panthers head coach Tom Rowe to discuss the massive changes in that organization with the firing of Gerard Gallant.

*Good for Anders Nilson putting a rainbow decal on the back of his goalie to mask to support some gay friends that have faced public resistance in their lives.

*Bruce Garrioch has his weekly NHL notes with several players, including Flyers defenseman Andrew MacDonald, potentially on the trade block if anybody wants them.

*PHT writer Cam Tucker has Colorado Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson suffering a broken leg that will keep him out 6-8 weeks.

*There was no blood for the Vancouver Canucks fans, but there was still plenty of drama in a win over the Maple Leafs.

*For something completely different: The World Baseball Classic works for everybody except for Major League Baseball, and that would appear to be a problem.