NEW YORK – One byproduct of the massive amount of injuries that have removed three of the Bruins top offensive options up front: Their high-powered power play is hitting hard times with new personnel at a time when the B's need it to come through more than ever.
The Bruins power play went 0-for-4 in the 4-2 loss to the New York Rangers on Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden and is now 1-for-13 in November with David Backes, David Krejci, Brad Marchand and Ryan Spooner missing from the PP units.
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Clearly, the Bruins are trying to make the adjustment to different personnel, but losing some of your best finishers is going to show up in the results for any team’s power play. It’s forced the Bruins into giving a player with zero points (Matt Beleskey) the sixth-most PP time in the game vs. the Rangers, and another player who's only played four games with the Bruins (Jordan Szwarz) over a minute of PP time as well.
Compounding that was Torey Krug and Patrice Bergeron passing up clear shots at the net to make the extra pass. That’s something the Bruins shouldn’t be doing on the PP right now.
“It’s not perfect, and it’s not pretty for sure. But we’ll work on that, for sure, and as we build that chemistry we’ll start making those pretty plays. But for right now we need to get back to the basics and out-working a group of four. We have the extra guy, so we should always come up with loose pucks and things like that,” said Torey Krug. “You’re missing [Ryan Spooner], who calms it down and you’re missing [Brad Marchand], who wins a lot of those battles to hold onto pucks.
“They’re two important guys, but we have guys that are capable of filling those spots. We just need to get back to how it was working well.”
The problems haven’t always been the same for Boston’s man-advantage. Against Washington, it was the zone entries that were a major problem and contributed to the B’s wasting a key four-minute power play in the third period. Against the Rangers, it was both a lack of finish and an inability to consistently win puck battles while keeping possession down low.
All of that takes the pressure off opponents’ penalty-kill units and takes away plenty of the precision and pop from a Boston man-advantage that is still ranked sixth in the NHL with a 23.5 percent success rate.
“You want to get results on that, and right now we’re not getting it,” said Bruce Cassidy of the PP, which couldn’t cash in on a pair of PP chances in the third period against the Rangers. “Not scoring is frustrating, but we’ve got to keep pushing. Getting one on special teams probably would have got us a point tonight.”
So what can the Bruins do about it?
It’s probably about a change in mindset until the healthy, skilled bodies get back into the lineup. That means simplifying and scoring by any means necessary, whether it’s crashing the net or using tips and redirections to better effect.
“It comes back to playing simple hockey. I think we’re looking for the perfect play, and an effective power play is just finding a way to score a goal. It doesn’t matter how it [is scored],” said Patrice Bergeron. “Right now if it’s to keep things simple and go to the front, and have more bodies to find the rebounds then so be it. I think we have to take it upon ourselves to just simplify things and go from there after that.”
It is easier said than done with the injuries Boston is fighting through right now, but the Bruins will need to find a way with a “we are what we are right now” group, according to Cassidy.