Bruins

Bruins notes: Power play continues to flounder

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Bruins notes: Power play continues to flounder

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

TORONTO The Bruins have only two goals to show for their last 31 times on the power play, and it wasnt supposed to be like this at all.

Things were supposed to immediately improve on the power play once Tomas Kaberle arrived on the scene at the end of February, and that hasnt happened at all. The sweet-passing defenseman has worked the point deftly on the power play and created action, but its entirely possible the Bs man advantage might be even worse than it was before Kaberles arrival in terms of production.

Both of Bostons recent power play goals have come against the dregs of the Eastern Conference in Ottawa and New York, and its no understatement to say that the power play outage has emerged as one of the biggest warning signs with the Black and Gold.

Bs coach Claude Julien has tried any manner of things to fix the man advantage: hes mixed and matched, hes stripped guys of their power play time, hes inserted Tyler Seguin back into the power play and hes gone with three different power play units to engender some competition.

A fruitless five-minute power play against the Predators after Patric Hornqvists elbowing major allowed Nashville to stay in the game, and served as another missed opportunity for the Black and Gold. It was the perfect example of the PPs inability to keep momentum, create momentum or steal momentum from their opponents when special teams' rears its head.

Its about going out there and just playing. Taking what theyre giving us. I think at this point we might be thinking a little too much out there, said Patrice Bergeron. The movement is great. Were moving it good and getting some chances. At this point its about burying them.

So far nothing has sparked the power play units, and its become much more than a hindrance at this point. The Bruins lose momentum each time they go on the power play against hungry teams, and its the exact opposite of its purpose.

Bruins assistant captain Patrice Bergeron said it comes down to working with what the defense is giving while on the power play, and that appears to be letting everyone else aside from Zdeno Chara beat them on special teams.

That means PK units are sagging off Tomas Kaberle while seemingly unworried about his abilities to shoot the puck, and daring any of the forwards to beat them down low.

You cant let frustration get to your game. Youve got to keep pushing, said Bergeron. Our power play is going to be huge in the playoffs, and weve got to find that groove before we get there.

We also cant let it all fall on Kaberle. Obviously hes great and moving the puck so well out there. Hes really opening things up out there and I think our power play has improved quite a bit since hes gotten here. Just the movement of the puck up top and all that stuff has improved. I dont think its about him turning things around by himself. Its about all five of us getting together and making it happen.

The Bruins have dropped all the way to 21st in the NHL with a 16.5 percent success rate on the power play, and will need to do a lot better than that if theyre looking for a long, fruitful run through the postseason.

Saturday nights game against the Toronto Maple Leafs concludes their final multi-game road trip of the regular season, and the Bs will have three consecutive home games following the weekend tilt at the Air Canada Centre.

The Bs will pay tribute to Bruins legendary radio personality Bob Wilson on Saturday, March 26 during the BruinsRangers game at the TD Garden. At 11:30 a.m., the Bruins will dedicate their home radio broadcast booth to Wilson by renaming it the "Bob Wilson Radio Booth." The Bruins will also install a silver microphone encased in a black and gold frame on the TD Gardens level 9 faade beneath the home radio broadcast booth, which will be permanently displayed. Wilson recently celebrated his 82nd birthday on Wednesday, March 9.

In the 13 games since a 6-3 win at the New York Islanders on February 17, the Bruins top line of Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Nathan Horton has been pacing the Bs offense. Since the start of that game, the line has combined for 16 goals and 43 total points. Of the 43 points, Krejci. (4 goals, 13 assists), Lucic (6 goals, 9 assists) and Horton have (6 goals, 9 assists) all equally contributed to the lines success.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Only five games into season, Bruins already sending off bad vibes

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Only five games into season, Bruins already sending off bad vibes

LAS VEGAS -- Even though it's only five games into a new regular season, it feels like the Bruins are in danger of going off the tracks.

They finished their three-game Western road swing Sunday with an aimless 3-1 loss to the expansion Golden Knights, which came on the heels of a wretched defeat in Colorado and a victory over the winless Coyotes. Sunday was particularly disheartening, as they never tested their ex-goalie, Malcolm Subban, putting only 21 mostly harmless shots on net against a player they gave away on waivers just a few weeks ago,

They may only have three losses in five games, but it sure feels like there's trouble starting to brew in Bruins land.

“It could be a lot of different things,” said Brad Marchand about the loss to Las Vegas. "We may not have been as mentally prepared for that game as we thought we were. They wanted it more than we did. They out-battled us in a lot of areas and they were the better team. We were making it hard on ourselves. We were trying to do too much with the puck, and not directing enough of the pucks toward the net. You can’t get rebound and you can’t get bodies there if the puck isn’t going there.”

That is a lot of different things. A lot of different problems:

-- They couldn’t fight to get to the front of the net against a rugged Vegas defensive group that was going to make them battle to get there.

-- Once again they had too many passengers along for the ride, with both Ryan Spooner and Frank Vatrano failing to even be a blip on the game’s radar screen. Spooner suffered a lower body injury midway through the game, but while he was out there he was a non-factor once again. 

-- It felt like there was no flow at all to Boston’s game, with breakouts dogged by sloppy passing and players who weren’t hard enough on the puck.

-- When they did get a chance to create something they either missed the net with their shot, or opted not to even take the shot in the first place. 

-- They lost 67 percent of the 57 draws taken during the game, and saw Spooner, Riley Nash and David Krejci and Ryan Spooner go a combined 8-for-29 in the face-off circle.

-- They chased the puck for long stretches and certainly didn’t ever put together anything approaching a consistent, driving pressure in the offensive zone.

Missing stalwart veterans like Patrice Bergeron and David Backes certainly isn’t helping. It makes the Bruins a much smaller group up front that can be pushed around by bigger, stronger defensive units.

But even so, there’s a sense the Bruins can’t consistently bring their 'A' game to the rink with them and don’t seem to have much fight when they fall down by a couple of goals. Trailing by just two goals going into the third period, the Bruins had four shots on net for most of the final period until a late flurry produced a score by David Pastrnak.

Perhaps of more concern, though, is the growing feeling that the Bruins aren’t all on the same page.

Marchand vaguely referenced that the Bruins weren’t prepared to play Sunday, and Tuukka Rask said he’ll no longer comment on anything except his own goaltending. Rask has always been candid and willing to be frank about any shortcomings after Bruins losses, but it appears that’s not something that is any longer welcome inside the B’s dressing room.

“I just try to go out there and give us a chance to win every night. That’s what I’m focused on,” said Rask. “I’m not going to comment anymore on team play that much. We can just talk about goaltending. That’s just the way it is. Sorry.”

Meanwhile, Krejci was similarly short in his postgame thoughts and started talking about avoiding pointing fingers after a frustrating loss.

“There’s no reason to point fingers," he said. "Yeah, we lost a game and it was a frustrating loss. But it’s just the fifth game of the season, so we don’t need to make a big deal out of it. We’re going to back to Boston, we’re going to work hard in practices and we’re going to get ready for the next game.”

Clearly, the fact this stuff is coming to the surface just five games into the season is a cause for concern. But it makes sense, given the way the Bruins are letting an easy portion of the season slip through their fingers.

In their first 10 games of the year, they're facing only one team that made the playoffs last season and they've got plenty of spaced-out stretches in the schedule to get off to a strong, healthy start. Instead they’re losing to subpar teams and highly unproven goalies, and doing so with a real lack of energy or purpose on the ice.

Certainly management would be smart to think about shipping underperforming players like Vatrano back to the AHL in place of Peter Cehlarik or Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson. And a few more games like Sunday’s snooze-fest could advance trade talks for a player like Matt Duchene.

But there aren’t going to be any easy answers. It comes down to hard work and hunkering down together as a team, and Sunday’s pitifully inept loss in a very winnable situation was yet another sign the Bruins aren't even close to being there yet.

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Spooner, McQuaid injured in Bruins' loss to Golden Knights

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Spooner, McQuaid injured in Bruins' loss to Golden Knights

LAS VEGAS -- The Bruins are already missing a handful of players to injuries, and they may have lost a couple more in Sunday’s loss to the Vegas Golden Knights.

Ryan Spooner was knocked out in the second period with a lower body injury, and Adam McQuaid was lost in the closing seconds of the third period when he was hit by a Colin Miller rocket from the point in his leg. McQuaid had to be helped to the dressing room after staying down on the ice for a few long moments, and the hope is that it’s the same kind of mostly harmless “dead leg” hit that allowed Kevan Miller to bounce back immediately from his Friday incident in practice.

McQuaid was spotted up and walking around in the visiting dressing room area postgame, so hopefully it’s nothing serious with one of the few Bruins giving everything he has on the ice each and every night.

Spooner finished with just eight shifts and 6:42 of ice time while failing to generate much offense, and went 1-for-4 in the face-off circle before getting shelved for the rest of the game. He just has a single point and is a minus-3 in four games this season and is once again has been pretty hard to notice on the ice during 5-on-5 play. It perhaps wasn’t a huge loss for the Bruins, given how much Spooner has been struggling to find baseline consistency, but the Bruins can’t continue to sustain injuries to their center men without those missing bodies beginning to take a toll.

The Bruins already have Paul Postma on hand if they take any injuries on the back end, but any more losses up front could mean the B’s dip into Providence where Peter Cehlarik, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson and Kenny Agostino are all off to hot offensive starts.