With man advantage, Bruins look to power on
It would take you both sets of fingers and toes to count on when evaluating all the positives in the Bruins’ 4-1 victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday night, but if there was one that certainly stood out let it be this; the extreme effectiveness on the man-advantage throughout the contest.
Entering the night tied for 22nd in the league at 13 percent (7-for-54 on the year), the Bruins have been searching for spark from the power-play unit. After throwing nine shots at Jets goaltender Michael Hutchinson over the course of four power-play opportunities as well as breaking through on a Patrice Bergeron goal during a 5-on-3 advantage with three minutes to go in the second period to put the B’s up 3-0, it can be argued that the team has now found a bit of confidence in their abilities on the man-advantage and certainly hope to continue the upward trend.
“We moved [the puck] quicker,” head coach Claude Julien said of his team’s power-play performance, on top of creating scoring chances in general, it’s more about times where we’ve got to hit the net. It’s okay to move it on the outside, but somewhere along the way, you got to get on the inside and I thought we were better at that today and we created some of those opportunities.”
The Bruins certainly did create numerous chances. Having the benefit of two 5-on-3 opportunities, the B’s were able to move the puck fluently and create several chances. Despite this, the team still appeared to be a bit snakebitten, as several shots sailed over the net while at other times, the puck just would not settle on the player’s stick.
However, the Bruins were able to break the spell late in the second. Ahead 2-0 and already 1:26 into their third power-play of the night, Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien was whistled for tripping, setting Boston up for their second 5-on-3 try of the game. After the ensuing faceoff, Zdeno Chara, seeing his first action on the power-play of the evening, dished it over to David Krejci on the point. Krejci then zipped it over to Bergeron, who wristed it by Hutchinson on his glove side for his third goal of the season.
For Bergeron, it was all about taking what was given to him, and he undoubtedly took advantage.
“Moving the puck and taking what’s there,” Bergeron said after the game on how the power-play can stay consistent, “it seems like in the past few games that we’ve been kind of giving the puck [up] and forcing plays and now it’s just about you taking what’s there and putting some pucks on net and be really good on getting the rebounds.”
Julien has also stressed the idea of mixing and matching his lines, especially on the power-play. Bergeron centered a line with Ryan Spooner and David Backes while Krejci and Torey Krug manned the points on the first unit. Jimmy Hayes, Austin Czarnik, Brad Marchand, John-Michael Liles and Brandon Carlo made up the second power play unit. Matt Beleskey also saw a significant amount of power play time.
As previously mentioned, Zdeno Chara recorded an assist on Bergeron’s goal, but only saw a total of 47 seconds of ice time on the man-advantage. Despite the dwindling amount of time, Julien still feels that there is room for Chara.
“For the most part, I think people respect his shot,” Julien said about putting Chara on the power play. “It really opens up other things, which is exactly what happened.”
The Bruins have definitely been playing well over the last couple of weeks, but just about anybody could tell you the power-play could improve. It has been an Achilles heel for the last several seasons, but the team has started to look better. If they can continue to move the puck and create chances as they did against Winnipeg, things could quickly fall their way.