Game 7: Pregame power play ponderings and rants

written by Mark Marino,

(Photo: Bridget Samuels/Ikeastan Hockey) Keeping the big man down low on the power play will work

Stop me if you’ve heard this before…but the Bruins power play has been historically bad throughout this post season.

Despite having the third-most power play opportunities with 61 (San Jose 73, Tampa Bay 67) they’ve cashed-in on just five of those — a mere 8.2-percent success rate.

So pardon me as I dust off my soapbox for a bit.

The Bruins finally lit the lamp on the man-advantage in Game 6; going 1-for-5 on the game upped their percentage from under seven to the current 8.2-percent. Plugging 6-foot-9 Zdeno Chara in front of the net on the PP1 unit certainly causes some commotion and a very large screen in front of Dwayne Roloson. But the B’s put just five shots on goal over those five opportunities.

“Well, it’s only an advantage if we get pucks to the net,” head coach Claude Julien said today after his team’s morning skate at the TD Garden. “If you are going to put him in front, you might as well get some pucks to the net and find ways to do that. So that’s part of our process is to move the puck around and create some shots.”

Now what wrong with this picture:

Nathan Horton–David Krejci–Zdeno Chara
Tomas Kaberle–Dennis Seidenberg

Despite having the large Captain parked on top of the crease — the PP1 unit above was rolled-out all five times in Game 6 — leaves the “No. 1″ power play line with three defensemen and two forwards. Kaberle is 100-percent “pass-first” type of player, as is Krejci (although netting a hat-trick on four shots last game).

“David, in his mind, is a pass-first kind of player,” Julien said. “He always looks to pass first and foremost. We’ve encouraged him to shoot more because there’s times where he’s in real good shooting position.”

So three D and two forward on the first line. Pptimistically speaking, this is all fine and dandy, until the PP2 Unit was rolled-out next:

Michael Ryder–Rich Peverley–Mark Recchi
Patrice Bergeron–Tomas Kaberle (Ference 0:25, Boychuk 0:14)

Four forwards, one defenseman.

  • Loading the first power play line with four forwards and one D — or 3/2 — would make a bit more sense. As the puck came alongside the left boards caused Horton to play his best Marc Savard impression on the half-wall, when in fact he — being a big body — should also be cycling from behind the net to the front.
  • Milan Lucic was the odd-man-out on the original PP1, which taken over by Chara. No. 17 did snipe a sweet goal in Game 6 — his first since his two-goal game (one on the PP) against Philly in Game 4 — so who knows if he’ll play some more minutes on the man-advantage….which leads me to my next rant:
  • We love the ageless wonder in Mark Recchi. He came back to Boston once again on a cheap one-year deal in hopes of winning another Cup upon riding into the sunset and into the Hall of Fame. But he needs to be taken off the power play, either all together, or at least have his minutes reduced. The 42-year-old hasn’t scored a goal (2 all post season) since April 30 — Game 1 versus Philadelphia. Since then he’s gone nine games without a goal (2 assists) and a minus-3 rating — all while averaging one shot on goal per game.
  • His last power play goal was back on Jan. 10, 2011 against the Penguins. That’s 40 regular season games plus all 17 playoff games this far, yet he’s still averaging 2:42 of total power play ice time, which is tied for second-most amongst forwards on the squad.

If THOH was coach for a day:

Nathan Horton–David Krejci–Zdeno Chara
Patrice Bergeron–Dennis Seidenberg

Milan Lucic–Tyler Seguin–Michael Ryder
Tomas Kaberle– Dennis Seidenberg/(Ference, Boychuk sparingly)

“You’ve got to make some adjustments on your power play,” Julien said. “I don’t think it’s one of those situations where you got panicked and you’ve got to stay positive and you’ve got to find solutions. That’s what we’re doing.”

Having said all of that, I now remove myself from my soapbox, and will thoroughly enjoy a Game 7 while crossing my fingers for a better power play performance.



Posted on May 27, 2011, in Boston Bruins, NHL Playoffs. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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