Bruins power play continues to figure things out
The month of February was not too kind to the Bruins power play. The Bruins went 5-for-38 and scored power-play goals in only four of their 13 February tilts.
The worst stretch of the month was by far their five-game road trip that began in Western Canada and ended with back-to-back losses in Toronto and Buffalo. The Bruins failed to score on the man advantage during the entire trip and followed that up by returning home and going 0-for-2 in a 4-3 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes at TD Garden to end the month.
But with the calendar now reading March, the Bruins power play is singing a new tune. First was a three-goal night in their 8-4 thrashing of the Penguins on Thursday, followed by Jake DeBrusk’s tying power-play tally in Saturday’s come-from-behind 2-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens.
With some new faces in town, struggles on the power play and a foot injury to Patrice Bergeron, Bruce Cassidy has had the luxury of moving some pieces around and the ability to insert some new blood on both units. Rick Nash, Brian Gionta and Nick Holden have all seen power play time since arriving in Boston, and all three have contributed to the Bruins power play success in the last two games.
With three goals in the last two games, the Bruins second power play unit has been the Bruins best. But Saturday’s early injury to Charlie McAvoy caused Cassidy and company to once again adjust on the fly.
“It’s a newer one put together, obviously, with [Nick] Holden and [Brian] Gionta, little more of a spread look where we’re moving around the perimeter trying to stretch the other team out, then get some shots and second chances,” Cassidy said following Saturday’s regular-season sweep of Claude Julien and the Montreal Canadiens.
With Danton Heinen returning to the lineup after being a healthy scratch Thursday night against Pittsburgh, the rookie returned to the second power-play unit two nights later against Montreal. But it was a double shift by Torey Krug, and his decision not to shoot that led to DeBrusk’s late equalizer.
“It’s what he’s here – it’s not what he’s here for, but it’s one of the things he obviously does best, and without Charlie, we used Danton Heinen up there,” said Cassidy. “We can always use Zee, and that was a thought process, but now you’re putting a lot on his plate playing with five D. So, we gave it to Torey, and he ended up making a play to Holden. Holden is good on it. He gets pucks to the net. He gets it through. He’s got this ability to find that shooting lane and do it in a hurry.”
The Bruins had 20 power play shots before DeBrusk’s tip beat Antti Niemi.
“I think like you just said we had a handful of power plays there that we got some decent looks just weren’t connecting or whatever,” DeBrusk said after notching his 13th of the season.
“I think it was just a matter of timing in the game, I think it was just late in the game we wanted to get pucks to the net and I think one of their guys accidentally dropped their stick or had a stick broken [on the power play goal] you got to take advantage of that and obviously it was nice to catch in.”
The Bruins have the league’s 13th ranked power play entering play on Monday. With 14 games in the next 27 days and a race for home ice in the first round of the playoffs, the Bruins could certainly use a boost from their power play.