Stop me if you’ve heard this before; the Boston Bruins power play is looking pretty awful lately.
If you’ve been following the team for the past few years, this is hardly news. That being said, it was just a few games ago that the unit was receiving some praise, thanks to a 2-for-4 effort against the Detroit Red Wings. Mark October 5 on your calendars, because that was the last time the Bruins scored on the man advantage.
The unit went scoreless in the seven chances they received against the Colorado Avalanche and Columbus Blue Jackets,respectively. However, the bottom of the barrel was yesterday’s rematch with Detroit. For the day, the Bruins went 0-for-5 on power plays, including a 5-on-3 that lasted almost two minutes.
Boston may have won the Stanley Cup in 2011 with some ugly power play skills, but its foolish to assume this can be easily repeated. And yet, its two years later and special teams coach Geoff Ward doesn’t appear to have made any adjustments.
Franchise defenseman Zdeno Chara had been seeing time in front of the crease as a mammoth goalie screen, and though it worked for one game, it hasn’t done anything since. Though offseason acquisition Jarome Iginla is pumping in shots every night, he has yet to cash in yet. Playoff sensation Torey Krug has been skating with authority and doing his best to set up opportunities, but none seem to be converted.
It’d be simply a small hurdle to overcome if this power outage was a first-time occurrence. That we’re just beginning the fourth straight season of ineffective power plays is more than troubling.
Despite some personnel changes here and there, a large bulk of the players on Boston’s power play lines have been here since at least 2011. So when Ward can’t seem to figure out the right way to utilize many of players he’s worked with for almost three seasons now, you have to wonder what the problem is and why nobody knows how to fix it.
Too often this year — and the last few, quite honestly — Bruins power plays consist of over-passing the puck, too much reliance on deflections from the point or, worse, just flat out standing around. The reason its an advantage is that you have more room on the ice now that the opponent is down a man. Why are the Bruins handling this by just pretending to be statues on ice?
Some point to late in the 2010 season, when former power play quarterback Marc Savard was knocked out by then Pittsburgh Penguins goon Matt Cooke. The vicious — and what should’ve been deemed illegal — elbow to Savard’s head gave him a concussion that, over three years later, he’s still recovering from. Since that time, no Boston player has taken the reigns and tried to run the power play.
Again, though, that was in 2010. The Bruins have had quite some time to figure out what to do since. However, here we are in the 2013 season and the team doesn’t seem to know how to bank on a power play opportunity. Boston has its fair share of offensive weapons, so its quite surprising none of them seem to know how to handle a situation when there’s one, sometimes two less defenders they have to worry about.
Understandably, all teams practice killing penalties as much as they do power plays. Boston won’t be running into any team this season who is absolutely clueless as soon as one of their players goes to the box. But still, one would think killing penalties is a little more difficult than scoring on a power play.
Unless the Bruins get their act together soon, they’ll be stuck in the middle of another season in they’re actually more ineffective when presented with odd man opportunities. One would have to wonder just how much longer head coach Claude Julien would trust Ward in running special teams.
Until then, one of the least intimidating statements in the NHL will be “Bruins on the power play.”