It may be fair to say that the Boston Bruins wouldn’t have held the top record in the NHL if it weren’t for their impressive play on the man advantage last season. The Bruins had the third best production on the power play after turning it around from their 2012-13 season where they finished 26th in the league.
The B’s were able to cash in on 21.7 percent of their opportunities on the man advantage, and a large part of their success can be attributed to the stellar play along the blue line — and I am not talking about captain Zdeno Chara.
The 6-foot-9 Slovak giant is frequently posted up in front of net on the power play, leaving youngsters like Dougie Hamilton and Torey Krug patrolling the blue line. The only Bruins defenseman to see more time than Hamilton and Krug on the man advantage was the captain himself. By giving them significant time on the man up, head coach Claude Julien helped the young defensemen become patient with the puck and develop better vision.
Both defensemen made great improvements to all aspects of their play, but the confidence that Hamilton and Krug gained from their time on the power play last season is what will help the Bruins most in the future. The absence of veteran Jarome Iginla will be tough to replace, especially after netting 30 goals last season, but players like Carl Soderberg and Loui Eriksson will have to embrace the opportunity and step into bigger roles.
For many years, Geoff Ward was the mastermind behind the Bruins’ power play schemes, but with his departure from the team, assistant coach Joe Sacco will now be in charge of drawing up the plays in Boston. It’s crucial that the Bruins continue to find the back of the net on the power play if they want to finish at the top of the league standings, and it appears that the pieces are in place.
With a few minor personnel changes, the B’s may not be returning the same roster next season, but we can expect Krug and Hamilton to log significant time on the man advantage for the second straight year.