By Joe Haggerty
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.