Bruins

Bruins power play fix start with the letter 'D'

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Bruins power play fix start with the letter 'D'

The good news from Wednesday night is that when the Bruins needed a jolt, Claude Julian went gambling.

Before the 3rd period, he threw caution to the wind and broke up his long established top line of Nathan Horton, Milan Lucic and David Krejci on the fly. Claude grouped a slumping Tyler Seguin with Lucic and Krejci to spark a Bruins team that was struggling to create scoring chances. Juliens roster alchemy turned leaden legs to gold almost instantly as the aforementioned combination scored two quick tallies to lead the Bruins to a 2-1 win over the Habs in Montreal.

The bad news is the Bruins power-play is still sloppier than a Lena Dunham nude scene. Given the talent on this roster, even with the recent injuries, it shouldn't be a yearly crisis.
Luckily, this season, the answer to their man advantage woes are right under their nose and its not giving Chris Bourque and the High Glass line more minutes.

If Claude has the guts to put his best three forwards together to kick start the offense, he should have no issues rolling the dice by letting his best two defenseman direct the power play.

Zdeno Chara and Dougie Hamilton are the key elements to turning around the Bruins man disadvantage, and they will be using a formula that is proven to work and easy to replicate.
Last year, who had the best power play in the NHL? Here is a hint; it wasn't the Penguins, Flyers or Canucks. It was the Nashville Predators.

They had a PP of 21.6, tops in the NHL. How can this be, given that Nashville had nobody in the top 50 in points scored last year, didnt have a 30-goal scorer, and that Nashville coach, Barry Trotz, looks like he just walked under a pile driver?

The answer is Shea Weber and Ryan Suter. Last year Nashville had 54 total Power Play goals. Shea Weber was on the ice for 47 of those 54 and Suter was on the ice for 45 of them. With Weber's cannon and Suter's passing skills anchoring their power play, they took a group of forwards Trotz would be hard pressed to make (bleep) salad with, let alone a version with chicken, and turned them into man advantage assassins.

Patric Hornqvist 27 goals, 8 on the power play

Craig Smith 14 goals, 6 on the power play

Mike Fisher 24 goals, 5 on the power play

Colin Wilson 15 goals, 5 on the power play

David Legwand 19 goals, 5 on the power play

Martain Erat 19 goals, 5 on the power play

None of those players finished with over 60 points. Guys like Smith and Wilson couldn't even crack 40 points but on the PP they were just as deadly as Seguin, Bergeron and Marchand (all 5 PP goals) were last season and more than doubled the goals scored by a 60-point player like David Krejci (2 PP goals).

Barry Trotz doesnt look like he works in a think tank. He isnt a hockey genius and certainly isnt an offensive guru. But he is pragmatic enough to know he had a defensive team with no elite scorers. So he maximized his teams talent on the PP by keeping Weber and Suter, his two best players, out there as much as possible, to lift the play of his forwards. The results spoke for themselves.

The Bruins can replicate the simple success of last years Predators buy letting Chara and Hamilton run the power play.

Chara has every bit the bomb from the point that Weber does. Last season he had 8 power play goals, only two fewer than Weber, on a team that suffered from an inconsistent man advantage all season. With someone like Suter setting his plate, Z would be a terror weapon and the Bruins might actually have someone better.

Hamilton was a deadly PP Quarterback in juniors. He had 55 assists last season, 30 of which came on the man advantage, which lead the OHL. Hamilton also has a great shot, arguably one superior to Suters. He had 17 goals last season and nine came on the PP. He's the anti Kaberle; a point man who's a gifted passer with a shot that has to be respected. Simply put, Hamilton could be the best person to run the Bruins Power Play since Marc Savard was healthy.

Give those two the ice time to generate chemistry and mix in a better group of forwards than Nasville and this power play should no longer be a liability that makes Bruins fans wish they could decline penalties. Chara and Hamilton setting up Seguin, Lucic, Horton, Marchand, Krejci and Bergeron will finally fix a problem that's stretched multiple seasons.

The only question is will Claude let it? Chara is already leading the team in Power Play Time On Ice but he may need to stay out there longer. Right now Hamilton is 7th on the team in PP TOI. That will have to increase dramatically because he going to be joined with Chara at the hip.

Krejci is currently 2nd in PP TOI. Give Hamilton Krejci's PP minutes and let him and Chara develop into an elite power-play combination. If that means that Seidenberg, Boychuck, Ference and McQuaid need to pick up more even strength ice time then so be it because this team is not going to win another Stanley with a power play that works less than Windows 8.

Claude, who to his credit, is already way more trusting of Hamilton than he was with Seguin at this stage of his career. Now he needs to reward that trust with the responsibility to run the power play.

Dougie and Z have what it takes to make the power play work and after last night, Claude might actually take a chance and let them fix it.

Sounds like some Bruins players suffering from Claude fatigue

Sounds like some Bruins players suffering from Claude fatigue

BRIGHTON, Mass – The resume for Claude Julien speaks for itself in terms of greatness in Boston, so he certainly will get a warm ovation from the TD Garden crowd in his first visit back to Boston since getting fired last February. Julien coached the Boston Bruins for 10 years, won a franchise record 419 games over that time span, made it to the Cup Finals twice and of course hoisted the Cup in 2011.

It won’t matter that he’s now the head coach of the Montreal Canadiens when Julien gets his video tribute, and basks a long ovation similar to the one he received when he was recognized for passing Art Ross on the B’s all-time wins list a couple of season ago. The warmth will be a little weird in the middle of a Bruins/Canadiens rivalry game, but it’s clear that Bruins fans appreciate the job done by Julien for such a long period of time.

The mutual respect was also clear when players like Patrice Bergeron spoke warmly of their coach ahead of last weekend’s showdown in Montreal, which the Bruins eventually pulled out in a shootout at the Bell Centre.

But it would seem the Bruins are starting to get a little tired of tossing verbal bouquets at the guy that’s now behind the Habs bench. It all started with Tuukka Rask’s postgame reaction on Saturday when asked if there was any extra emotion going up against his old coach for the first time.

“He was not playing a shift on the ice, so it doesn’t really matter. He was coaching, so it was nothing special,” said Rask, matter-of-factly.

So there wasn’t any added emotion for Rask going up against Julien’s new team for the first time?

“Nope,” said Rask.   

That line of questioning continued again after Tuesday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena with Julien coming back to the Garden for the first time.

“Well, I can tell you what’s going to happen,” said Rask. “We’re going to start the game, at some point there’s going to be a video montage, we’re going to tap our sticks and the crowd is going to clap their hands and give him a warm welcome. Then the game is going to continue.”

Does Rask expect either he or some of his longtime teammates will get emotional if they see Julien showing some emotion during his ovation?

“No,” said Rask.

Is it really that cut-and-dry, the Bruins goaltender was asked?  

“It’s just another game,” said Rask, who improved to 8-15-3 lifetime against the Montreal Canadiens after last weekend’s shootout win. “It’s probably special for him to come back and be on the other side, but for us it’s just another game.”

Similarly, Marchand was much more understated speaking about Julien on Tuesday after speaking enthusiastically last weekend about the many discussions player and coach had about “becoming a better a pro” early in his career. But the Bruins winger wasn’t about to get all warm and fuzzy when asked about any greeting that his former coach is expected to get while the legendary Bruins/Habs rivalry plays out on the ice.

“I’m not really looking forward to it, but I’m sure he is,” said Marchand, when asked about the fan reception from Bruins fans awaiting Julien on Wednesday night. “It doesn’t really have anything to do with me, but I’m sure he’s excited to come back. He’s deserved that video and I’m sure a lot of people will be excited to see him again. I’m sure it will be a memorable game.”

Marchand went on to say he "learned a lot" from Julien during their time together, and clearly still has a high level of respect for his former coach. 

 Maybe it’s the very nature of the Bruins/Habs rivalry, or maybe the Bruins players are suffering from a little Claude Julien question fatigue with the two teams playing three times in a span of eight days. Maybe we're even finally seeing some of the Bruins players that had tired of the longtime coach's methods by the end of his long-running tenure in Boston. 

But it sure sounds like some longtime Bruins players might be over it when it comes to the “Claude Bowl” aspect of the ongoing rivalry week between the two storied rivals.  

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Morning Skate: Robust trade market for D-men

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Morning Skate: Robust trade market for D-men

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while prepping for Claude Bowl II.

*It’s going to be a robust trade market for defensemen with names such as Jack Johnson, Dion Phaneuf and Oliver Ekman-Larsson highlighting the group that’s available. Paul Martin will be in that select company if he clears through waivers and perhaps Niklas Hjalmarsson will as well with many teams holding D-men they’re willing to part with.

*The Buffalo Sabres apparently want four assets in any deal for rental Evander Kane that includes a draft pick, a prospect and an NHL roster player, and it’s hard to believe anybody is going to do that for a perennial underachiever who's never even scored 60 points in a season before.

*A tough end to the Andrew Cogliano iron-man streak as he’s been suspended for a couple of games after an incident last weekend.

*Brent Burns is the envy of many blueliners around the league because of his hard, accurate shot, which isn’t scoring him as many goals this season

*Year-round Las Vegas resident Deryk Engelland has been rewarded for being a member of the Golden Knights with a one-year contract extension.

*It sounds like the Philadelphia Flyers have got Shayne Gostisbehere thinking more about defense after some up-and-down moments last season in his sophomore effort.

*For something completely different: A profile on a UFC champion and a firefighter all at the same time. Sounds like an interesting dude.


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