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

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.