The Boston Bruins well-oiled power play received plenty of praise around the NHL during their hot streak. Boston’s penalty kill also deserves high recognition as one of the best shorthanded units in the league, especially following Saturday’s tilt with the Ottawa Senators.
Following an emotional first period with the Scott Sabourin-David Backes collision, the Bruins racked up eight penalty minutes in the second frame. The sequence began with a bench minor for too many men followed by a rare six minutes of penalties by Brad Marchand (a minor for hooking and a double minor for spearing).
Marchand was more of a detriment to his team in the second period than an asset. But, even with one of their top penalty killers in the box for an extended time, Boston’s shorthanded unit stood strong all night, going a perfect 5-for-5.
While the Senators have the worst power-play percentage in the league at 4.8 percent, the Bruins penalty kill was stellar and has been solid throughout the first few weeks of the season.
The potent power play overshadowed the other side of Boston’s special teams’ units. But don’t sleep on the PK either. The Bruins rank sixth in the NHL in that department, running at an 85.7 percent success rate.
Obviously that monstrous penalty kill kept Boston in the game, and that huge special teams moment set the tone the rest of the way.
“I think it is a big, big part of why we won the game tonight,” head coach Bruce Cassidy said. “To be able to keep it out of our net and it wasn’t pretty, but some guys got taxed and it effects you later too. Like, Bergy ends up playing a lot of minutes. March is one of our principal killers, he’s in the box without a couple of guys that typically kill. So, now it’s a five-on-three, you want to make sure you’ve got guys that have done that before. Even Cehlarik comes out of the box serving a penalty, he doesn’t kill a lot. So, he got kind of caught there.”
Yet, even with their stellar performance, Cassidy saw one area the Bruins’ PK could improve on.
“We did a hell of a job to keep it out of our net and we need to get better with our clears to save ourselves a little bit of aggravation on the coaches end, for them it’s wear and tear, for the players,” Cassidy said. “That would be my one area I’d be nit-picky about on the PK, but they kept us in the game with that. It was a big kill. Special teams were the difference tonight.”
Patrice Bergeron, a four-time Selke winner, became a PK catalyst during Boston’s shorthanded dominance beginning in the Claude Julien area.
They needed all hands on deck during the lengthy second-period kill, and Bergeron praised everyone for persevering through the eight-minute stretch.
“It definitely helped,” Bergeron said. “They got some good looks. Tuukka [Rask] made some great saves, but I think we did a good job overall and you often say that the power play or penalty kill can give you some momentum. I thought tonight was the penalty kill that did it.”
Marchand’s lengthy six-minute trip to the sin bin provided some opportunities for players who don’t normally see time on the penalty kill, including Anders Bjork and Peter Cehlarik.
The Bruins stress attention to detail at practice and the film room. Bergeron saw that play out first hand during that second-period penalty kill.
“It’s a long kill. So, there’s different guys that were utilized and did a great job,” Bergeron added “I think it pays off when all those guys are paying attention in meetings and making sure they stay sharp if their name is called upon. I think goes a long way and tonight was a perfect example.”
The Bruins’ power play hasn’t missed a beat since opening night. Their penalty kill is just as strong — and it’s only getting better.
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