The Boston Bruins now find themselves in a 2-1 series deficit following back-to-back losses to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
All is not lost for the Bruins as they faced the same scenario in the first round against the Maple Leafs. But here in Round 2, the Bruins face a multitude of concerning areas, including the power play.
The Bruins power play, one round removed from going 7-for-16 against Toronto, hasn’t been sharp at all. Boston scored just once in its nine attempts with the man advantage through three games against Columbus.
Part of the problem is, of course, the stellar play of Sergei Bobrovsky, who has looked more the part of a brick wall than a living human being thus far. But it’s a bigger issue than just that.
The primary power play unit hasn’t resembled anything like the machine it was in the regular season. Far gone are the days of David Pastrnak — a big no show this postseason — firing his one-timers from the left faceoff circle. Their other primary option involving Patrice Bergeron’s chances at the bumper isn’t there either.
There’s no sense of unity at all. The plays they’ve drawn up aren’t working.
Some of the common faces even changed. Bruce Cassidy yanked a struggling Jake DeBrusk in favor of Marcus Johansson as the net-front presence on the top unit during the Toronto series.
It hasn’t worked and it’s been a glaring difference between the two sides. The power play’s confidence is at an all-time low. That doesn’t happen that often for a team that ranked third in the league during the regular season.
A prime example came in the third period Tuesday night when the Bruins trailed 2-1 with under nine minutes left. Cassidy’s squad had a golden chance to tie things up to at the very least sustain their momentum following so many close chances on Bobrovsky in the final stanza. A bad turnover by Brad Marchand forced Bergeron’s tripping penalty just 16 seconds into their second — and final — power play attempt of the evening.
The Bruins desperately need the power play to get going. Even strength goals are hard to come by against a confident Bobrovsky. Boston threw everything at him from all different angles — including three posts in Game 3 — and he’s barely flinched.
The power play might be the only way the Bruins climb back into the series before it gets out of hand.
“We’re going to have to figure something out, as a group,” Cassidy told reporters postgame about the special teams issues.
Easier said than done against a Columbus’ fourth-ranked PK unit this postseason (87.5 percent). The Blue Jackets held Tampa’s potent top regular season power play unit in check in Round 1. They’re doing the same against the third-ranked man-advantage unit during the 82-game slate.
Matt is a recent graduate from the Pennsylvania State University with a degree in sports journalism and a minor in business. He currently reports on the Boston Bruins and writes featured stories and game recaps for both Bruins Daily and Boston.com
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