What was once the bread and butter of their success, the Bruins special teams are now a major piece of their recent demise.
Having gone 0-for-4 on the power play tonight in a 4-1 loss (that wasn’t even that close) to the Thrashers at Phillips Arena in Atlanta, the B’s have now scored just twice on their last 19 times (10.5%) with the man advantage. Even worse, the Black-and-Gold have a mere six power play goals in 50 opportunities in 14 games during the month of November (8.33%).
That now puts Boston’s power play season totals in the bottom half of the league; 13-for-83 for a 15.8 percent success rate.
Even with David Krejci out of the lineup tonight with the flu, Boston has been rolling out with the same power play units night-in, night-out. The same stagnant lines are thrown out there, forced to produce, yet continue to come up empty-handed.
Milan Lucic–Patrice Bergeron–Nathan Horton
Mark Recchi–Tyler Seguin–Michael Ryder
Horton is now point-less in his last five contests, yet head coach Claude Julien continues to ride No. 18 on the top power play unit; he logged nearly four minutes of PP ice time tonight. The Lucic–Bergeron–Horton power play line only gets shuffled-up when Krejci is in the lineup to play center — plugging Bergeron back on the point. Lucic and Bergeron were held without a single shot on goal tonight — Horton registered three — yet the same trio on the Bruins’ first-line were the team’s first power play unit.
The Julien system claims to reward its hard-working, productive players with added time on ice. Yet the previous mentioned, especially Horton, have not, yet are given the most man-advantage time.
Blake Wheeler, despite spending two minutes in the sin bin for tripping, didn’t even log 13:30 of total ice time tonight, and a mere 1:33 on the power play. A player who has played very well as of late (2-2-4 in his last five) on both ends of the ice, and is also a right-handed shot like Horton, is deserving of playing right-wing and top forward minutes on that top power play line.
A player who hasn’t necessarily been known tear it up, Brad Marchand has at least been putting in a solid effort for the Bruins this season. And although his stats and offensive play may not light it up on the power play, the fourth-liner has 1-1-2 in his last five contests, and his snap-shot that he loves to pull top-shelf could be of some use while Horton (and other) watch a few shifts from the pine. His hustle and aggressiveness that he’s show on the penalty-kill could become contagious among his teammates.
Promoting Ryder from the second power play unit to the first (at least in minutes) could provide another right-handed shot, alongside Lucic, for extra minutes.
In the third period of Wednesday night’s victory over the Florida Panthers, Julien shuffled up the lines to provide that spark that the team needed to jump-start some momentum. The same needs to be done on the power play — if anything, it will shake things up and get things going. Plug in your most deserving player, because what’s been going on for over three weeks hasn’t working.
Players are gripping their sticks too tight while the coaching staff has their hands in their pockets for Marc Savard’s return. Although Savard could be the savior of the Bruins’ power play, he’s not in the lineup right now. And if the current scenario continues, the Bruins will not only find themselves slipping down the NHL’s power play stats, but before long, they could be on the bottom of the standing looking up.
The Bruins have now faced a two-or-more goal deficit in eight of their 22 games this season and they are now 1-8-1 in those games. That span also includes an 0-7-1 mark when their opponent has scored the first two goals of the game. Their lack of effort and slow starts are in a category of their own, yet are still echoed in their dismal time on the man-advantage.
If Julien is going to reward those worthy players of that extra ice time, then those words need to be implemented immediately.
Boston killed just 1-of-3 on the penalty-kill tonight. After Friday afternoon’s 0-for-3 against the Hurricanes, Boston has allowed five power play goals against in their last eight times short (62.8%) over the past three games. They killed-off 18 straight before their matinée against Carolina; are now 19 for their last 24; and have dipped from first in the NHL with 90.5 percent, to sixth with 86.2 percent.