The Bear Essentials: Bruins Simply Lack Skill on Power Play

The Bear Essentials By Mark Feldman, 98.5 The Sports Hub

BOSTON (CBS) – Let’s be blunt, Wednesday night, the power play was awful. The Boston Bruins simply lack the skill it takes to control the puck in the offensive zone during the man advantage.

We all know the counter arguments; three more centimeters and it’s in the net. One more step and the game is tied. Fact is, every shot was three centimeters off and every player was one step behind.

In the NHL, every inch counts. A single millimeter separates the great ones from those who are good, those who are immortalized and those who vanish into the dustbins of history. Wednesday night, Bruins fans were hoping to sweep this one away. After being handed five free shiny power play gifts by the Hurricanes, Boston wasn’t able to convert on ANY of them. Sure the opportunities were there, yes, but the overall skill to maintain the puck in the offensive zone simply wasn’t.

Read: The Bear Essentials

It’s this skill that will allow the Bruins to finally score one simple goal; a goal that means the difference between losing and winning a game, finishing fourth and finishing fifth and boosting morale or letting it further disrupt the team.

Let’s take a look at three power play examples from last night that demonstrate this exact point.

Power play #3 (16:42 of the 2nd): 2 minutes to score. 2 minutes, and within that time, the puck went out of the offensive zone a total of four times. Four. Let’s do the math on that. Every time the puck exits the zone we can generously estimate a loss of 10 seconds; the amount of time that it takes a team to set back up. In this instance, the Bruins lost 40 seconds on their man advantage. That’s a significant amount of time to make a play and change the game. It’s this skill that eluded them last night and kept them from a victory. Sure, there were opportunities and they were good. But the fact is, they weren’t good enough.

Stats: Bruins-Hurricanes Box Score

Power play #4 (11:37 of the second): 120 seconds to score. 120 seconds and during that time the puck left the offensive zone a total of six times. If we do our math again, that’s one minute taken off of the power play. With only one inconsistent minute to make a play, the chances of setting up and scoring a goal are minimized. By this point, the Bruins had a total of four power play opportunities and only put six shots on net.

Power play #5 (8:55 in the 2nd): five offensive zone clears, 50 seconds gone.

The power plays’ inability to maintain offensive control of the puck is proving to be a detriment to this Boston Bruins team. A significant amount of time is constantly wasted skating in and out of the zone. This handicap proves it difficult for the team to do anything significant, for instance, scoring a goal. Mistakes are made and although they are slight, they make all the difference in the game.

The lines can be toggled and the players can be moved but if the Boston Bruins allow the puck to travel around the ice as often as it does, then every attempt to fix this thing is meaningless. It’s an issue of skill, an ability to control the offensive zone during the man advantage and unfortunately, this Bruins team may be missing just that.

Follow Mark Feldman on Twitter @mfsports21

  • jaygee

    I’m not a very superstitious person but when I saw the picture
    of Tim Thomas on the cover of Sports Illustrated a couple of
    weeks ago, I really didn’t think much of it. However……………..?

  • Deano

    Feldman, you nailed this one on the head. However, you are sort of pointing out the obvious in this case without providing a solution.

    Three ways to change the issue.

    One is the power play needs to do a better job of entering the offensive zone with speed and bodies, so they can forecheck effectively and actually set up the PP in the offensive zone. This means their transition game needs major work, from the breakout to both carrying the puck into the zone or they can dump the puck. If they need to dump it, make sure they have all three forwards crossing the blue line with speed when the puck is dumped.

    Two, when they are in the offensive zone the player without the puck needs to do a better job of supporting the puck carrier. Too often when they have possession of the puck in the offensive zone, the puck carrier is moving trying to make a play and the other four players are all standing still. They need more movement to create confusion in the offensive zone. They should try running the Minnesota Wild’s PP from a few year’s ago, dubbed “controlled chaos” which worked very well for a team that lacked natural PP goal scorers.

    Three, they have 9 million in cap space and only one UFA next season (Krecji) that they need to keep. They need to make a move for an impact player. The guy they should trade for is Jerome Iginla. He would immediately help the PP as he is a big time goal scorer. He is an all around power forward, a clubhouse leader and would be a perfect fit on the Bergeron, Marchand line. Calgary is in second to last place, and is right against the salary cap. Iginla has one year left at 6 mill after this season, Bruins could easily extend him and lower his annual cap hit. Calgary would prolly trade him away for a package similar to: Rich Peverley or Chris Kelly or Boychuk, and Jordan Caron or Doug Hamilton), and a 1st and 2nd round pick. The deal would work for both, allowing Calgary to rebuild with a younger nhl player, a top prospect, some draft picks and giving the Bruins the veteran goal scoring power forward that still yearns for the cup and brings that drive back to this team.

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