Bruins penalty kill comes up big in Game 1
When the Pittsburgh Penguins receive four power-plays in a game, usually they capitalize. The National Hockey League’s most lethal power-play unit went 0-4 against the Bruins penalty kill Saturday night in Game 1, leaving the Penguins looking for answers.
The B’s penalty kill was one of their biggest strengths during the regular season and heading into the series with the Penguins, the Black and Gold killed 30 of 37 postseason power plays (81.1%). Those figures will need to keep up if the B’s want a chance in this series.
Kris Letang, Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby, James Neal and Chris Kunitz are all on the power-play for the Penguins. Is that fair? If you ask B’s Head coach Claude Julien it’s just the game of hockey.
“When you play against a team that’s got the best power play in the playoffs, you have to be at your best,” Julien said. “I thought our guys were at their best.”
It was not as if the B’s played shut down defense on their penalty kill. The Penguins had nine shots on net, but with a mix of posts and luck, the B’s escaped and killed off all four penalties in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
Head coach of the Penguins Dan Bylsma was upset due to the lack of his team’s composure at the end of the second period while the team could have capitalized on the man-advantage.
“I don’t think the situation at the end of the second period was in our favor,” Bylsma said. “We had a power-play. We had a power-play coming out of the third period and we’ve got two of our power-play guys off the ice with those altercations. That’s not something we certainly want to be in to. We don’t want to make the game that way. We want to play five-on-five.”
Give credit to the B’s for taking the high-powered Penguins off their game at crucial times-frustrating them to the point where Crosby got into it with B’s goaltender Tuukka Rask.
One cannot say enough about the penalty kill for the B’s. Patrice Bergeron, Daniel Paille, Chris Kelly, Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg, and Gregory Campbell all see key time on the penalty kill, but really the list goes on. The work these guys do while on a man-disadvantage is remarkable.
The B’s continued to play their style of hockey on the penalty-kill. They were clogging passing lanes, being physical, and taking the Penguins out of their game. It is a thing of beauty when the Black and Gold can shut out one of the most powerful offenses of our generation.
The only thing that must change is that the B’s need to cut down their minutes in the sin-bin because eventually Crosby and company will strike. It is only a matter of time, but for now the B’s penalty kill will just work two minutes at a time if that is the case.
Seidenberg knows the penalty-kill can always improve and he hopes for that in Game 2 tonight in Pittsburgh.
“We did our best to keep them from scoring,” Seidenberg said. “They did move the puck well. They got pucks to the net and got to the rebounds. We got lucky a couple of times. A couple of times Tuukka made some real good saves. We just have to clean it up a bit more. Not get caught running around and try to keep it to the outside.”