The Bruins fired 31 shots on Roberto Luongo last night and made him look like Terry Sawchuk, as Vancouver blanked the B’s 1-0 in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals at the Rogers Arena.
One obvious and glaring area of the Bruins’ game that is still the greatest concern is on the man-advantage situations. In fact, to say that their power play has been putrid would be an great understatement.
Perhaps it’s overlooked, in some degree, by their stellar penalty-kill — which has simply shut down the Sedin’s and the Canucks’ 5-of-4 game.
Throughout the regular season, the Canucks were far-and-away the best, most offensive team in the NHL. They lead all other 29 teams in goals-for (259 total; 3.15 per game) and on the power play (72 power play goals; 24.3 percent). And heading into the Playoff Finals, they carried-on with their textbook offensive prowess, capitalizing on 17-of-60 power play opportunities for a league-high 28.3 percent before facing Boston.
Through five games this series, however, the Bruins have killed-off 19 straight Vancouver power plays and have limited the Canucks to just one power play goal on 25 opportunities — a 96 percent success rate. That one goal dating back to the first period of Game 2.
And despite having a better power play percentage this series (14.3 percent) than their opponents, the difference between the B’s taking a ride on the duck boats in the Stanley Cup parade in Boston and watching the Canucks skate around the rink with it this upcoming week will rest solely on their man-advantage play.
Take away the 2-for-4 power play in Game 5′s 8-1 blowout in Boston, and the B’s are just 1-for17 (5.9 percent) this series — and zero for their last eight.
The Bruins were handed three enormous opportunities in the first frame of Game 5 last night. The refs blew the whistle and hauled off Vancouver’s Raffi Torres — within the first two-minutes of the game for tripping — Henrik Sedin (interference), and Andrew Alberts (roughing) all over a 13 minutes span of the first. And in typical Bruins’ fashion, they were held off the scoreless in the six power play minutes, and 0-for-4 on the night.
Had the Bruins capitalized on one of those three gift-wrapped chances last night, then the outcome of that contest surely would have been different.
The first unit of Milan Lucic (4:45 PP/TOI) Patrice Bergeron, and David Krejci (4:30 PP/TOI) had some chances. Strike that, Bergeron had some chances. No. 37 had a team-high six shots on goal with five of those coming on the man-advantage. Lucic failed to muster even one shot on goal all night; Krejci’s one-and-only shot came via the power play in the first period.
For the Bruins second power play unit, the coaching staff opted for fourth-liner Gregory Campbell (1-2-3, 19 shots in 23 playoff games this year) to take some time on the man-advantage — with Michael Ryder (zero shots on goal) and Mark Recchi.
Now, this is by no means a knock on the player, but rather the coaching decision to put a fourth-line player — who has a grand total of two power play goals in his 466 career NHL games — on a struggling power play.
“He’s done a pretty good job in front of the net and he certainly is good at tipping and, obviously, screening. But, you know, I don’t think we’re capable of doing much with him in front because we weren’t getting the set that we wanted to get in the offensive zone,” head coach Claude Julien said of Campbell on the power play. “Had we managed to get control of the puck and move it around and create some shots, he would have been a valuable player up front there where he normally does a good job.”
For what Campbell brings to the table — his role as a fourth-line gritty, energy-brining center and penalty-kill guru — has been great all season. He even got my vote for the Bruins Seventh Player Award. His willingness to play on the edge while having the stones to stand on top of the crease — in the dirty areas — and face shots from the point, while trying to redirect the blasts and cause screens is admirable. But under no circumstances should he be the pivot on any power play unit, during the Cup Finals to boot.
Yet after not one but two failed opportunities, Julien and assistant coach Geoff Ward rolled Campbell out there for the final power play of the first period. Campbell finished the game with 13 minutes of total ice time, 2:17 on the power play, and two shots on goal (zero on the PP).
One name that even the national TV announcers, and fans across New England, were shouting for was rookie Tyler Seguin — has 3-4-7 totals and 19 shots in 11 post season games.
It’s as clear as the nose on Rod Brind’Amour’s face at high noon that the 19-year-old rookie has a full tank of gas in those roadrunner-like legs. The speedy first-round pick has played a total of 31 minutes 55 seconds in his four Stanley Cup Finals games, and has logged exactly three minutes on the Bruins’ power play over that span — including 12 garbage seconds in last night’s loss.
But for some reason unknown, his minutes in the Finals have been limited to under eight per game…and has barely been given a look with his 45 seconds of average power play ice time per game this series, despite the team going 8-for-82 in the post season.
Over those four games Seguin has dressed, the Bruins have gone 1-for-16 on the power play while posting a 1-3 record.
‘The kid’ may not be the exact saving grace of the Bruins poor power play, nor does the weight of the Stanley Cup rest on his shoulders. But if the B’s are going to right the ship in Game 6 to push a Game 7, they’re going to have to shake things up 5-on-4 and give him a chance.