Boston, we have a power-play problem


Boston, we have a power-play problem

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.


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. 

B's not anticipating any Game 6 availability issues with Bergeron

B's not anticipating any Game 6 availability issues with Bergeron

BOSTON – It looks like Patrice Bergeron made it through his Game 5 return without any pressing issues or lingering problems that should limit his availability for the last couple of potential games in the best-of-seven series with the Maple Leafs.

Bergeron topped 20 minutes of ice time in the 4-3 loss to the Maple Leafs in Saturday night’s Game 5 at TD Garden, and had six shots on net, 10 shot attempts, three hits and won 16-of-25 face-offs while being held without any points. There were times where No. 37 looked like he was playing through a little bit of pain, but the numbers certainly don’t back that up as he was still very strong even if he was less than 100 percent. 

“I won’t project past Game 6. He made it through [the Game 5 loss] healthy and he finished the game,” said Bruce Cassidy on Saturday night following Game 5. “You always want to see how they are in the morning. I don’t anticipate there will be any issues going into Game 6. Of course, that could change, but that’s the way it is right now.”

Bruce Cassidy indicated after Saturday night’s loss that Bergeron, who has five assists and a plus-3 rating in four games vs. the Leafs, finished the game without issue, and further said at Sunday’s chat with the media that he wasn’t expecting health issues would cause any lineup changes for Monday night’s very important Game 6 in Toronto. Bergeron was also spotted at Warrior Ice Arena on Sunday afternoon and certainly looked no worse for the wear, so the B’s aren’t bracing for any last minute scratches in a heavy duty playoff game on Monday night at the Air Canada Centre. 

“We’ll reassess on [Monday] morning when guys go back on the ice health-wise,” said Bruce Cassidy. “Sometimes they feel good today and then they get on the ice…I don’t anticipate much going on health-wise, but we went up to Toronto [earlier this week] and one game Bergeron didn’t play and then Grzelcyk in another one. So [a change in the lineup] could happen.” 

That would indicate Bergeron came through Saturday night’s heavy workload without any further issues, and that perhaps he’s over the hump with whatever upper-body injury caused him to miss a game in the middle of the series. That’s a great sign with the Black and Gold in serious need of all hands on deck for another chance to eliminate the Maple Leafs on Monday night in Toronto.


Morning Skate: Kadri's presence makes difference for Leafs in Game 5

NBC Sports Boston Photo

Morning Skate: Kadri's presence makes difference for Leafs in Game 5

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while spring appears to finally be arriving in Boston.


*Some solid war stories from the NHL penalty box compiled by FOH (Friend of Haggs) Alex Prewitt at Sports Illustrated.


*Keeping an eye on the Tampa Bay Lightning, and rookie D-man Mikhail Sergachev is enjoying a strong playoff series for the Bolts as they advanced past the New Jersey Devils this weekend.


*Nazem Kadri definitely helped make a difference for the Maple Leafs in Game 5 at the Garden, and Toronto is going to need more of that if they’re going to force a Game 7.


*The Philadelphia Flyers are finally ratcheting up some drama with the Penguins in their first-round series.


*Good memories from FOH (Friend of Haggs) Dave Goucher out in Vegas as he talks about Gil Santos at the time of the New England sports legend’s passing this week.


*For something completely different: When you’re writing think pieces about Adam Sandler, it may be time to reevaluate things.