At the end of the regular season, the Bruins’ penalty kill had taken a hit, and the team suffered as a result. In the postseason, the penalty kill is back up to speed.
Through 19 postseason contests, the Bruins are 55-of-62 on the penalty kill with a success rate of 87.1 percent. But the last two rounds against the Penguins and Blackhawks prove why it has one of the team’s strengths throughout Claude Julien’s tenure.
Dating back to the Eastern Conference Finals, the Bruins have killed 27 straight penalties. And on Monday night, even though the Blackhawks’ power play issues were front and center, the Bruins penalty kill was up to task again in their 2-0 victory in Game 3.
“Our guys are understanding of one thing: this is a team,” Julien said about the penalty kill. “When it attacks, it attacks with four, never three. They’ve got such great skaters back there on the fence that if we don’t do what we’re doing right now, we don’t stand a chance.”
The relentless shorthanded attack continued on Monday as the Bruins killed all four of the Blackhawks’ power plays. Through the first three games of the series, they are a perfect 11-for-11 on the penalty kill.
With Shawn Thornton serving a roughing penalty late in the first, the Bruins’ shorthanded unit took control. Both Rich Peverley and Brad Marchand had chances on a breakaway, while the Bruins’ D got into the passing lanes and allowed very little room for Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp and company.
That sequence is a perfect example of the Bruins staying disciplined.
“We’ve said it a lot, it’s about trusting the system and making sure we have layers and we communicate on the ice,” said forward Patrice Bergeron, who tallied his seventh goal of the playoffs at 14:05 of the second period (on the power play).
“I think we definitely got to do that a little more against them. They have so much talent and great transition. There’s some room to get better, but obviously we’ve got to feed off that system and do it to a ‘tee’.”
Of course, it also helps to have Tuukka Rask between the pipes. The Finnish netminder had 28 saves – five of them coming on the penalty kill – for his third shutout of the postseason.
“I think we try to stay compact in our zone,” said defenseman Dennis Seidenberg, who was the recipient of the army ranger jacket as the player of the game. “Then, there’s Tuukka. He’s always there to make that save, and we try to clean up for him to get the rebound or for us to clean it up.”
Throughout the night, the 17,565 at TD Garden were appreciative of the Bruins’ effort on the penalty kill, often times getting a standing ovation from the sellout crowd.
That energy from the Bruins fans is something the Black and Gold certainly appreciates.
“It’s always great when the crowd acknowledges things like that, and I thought everyone did a great job killing penalties,” said Chris Kelly. “And your best penalty killer needs to be your goaltender and he was again tonight.”