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. 

Bruins take down Islanders, extend point streak to 15 games


Bruins take down Islanders, extend point streak to 15 games

GOLD STAR: Who else but Patrice Bergeron? The Bruins center finishes with three goals and his second hat trick in a span of six games, and now has 11 goals scored in his last 11 games during a wicked goal-scoring spree. Bergeron clearly wasn’t just about the goals as he also finished with four shots on net and won 12-of-18 face-offs in his 15:39 of ice time, but it’s amazing how he’s been able to get into so many great scoring positions while always facing the other team’s best defensive players. It speaks to just how good he is when he gets those chances in the slot, and how good both Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak are at getting the puck to him in the spots where he can do his offensive damage. Bergeron now has 19 goals on the season and continues to roll out some serious offensive numbers for a Bruins team that’s just destroying their opponents. Bergeron is the first Bruins player to score two hat tricks in the span of six games since Rick Tocchet did it in five games back in 1996 for the Black and Gold.  

BLACK EYE: The Barclays Center shouldn’t be housing NHL hockey games, and thankfully won’t be in the near future when the Isles move out of Brooklyn. That being said, it had to demoralize whatever fans have made the move to Brooklyn to see so many Bruins hats get tossed on the ice from Boston fans after Bergeron scored his third goal of the game. The Islanders games have always felt like de facto home games for the Black and Gold given the huge contingent of B’s fans that make the trip to New York for these games. But it’s all the more of a gut punch when it turns into those road warrior Bruins fans loudly and animatedly celebrating goals, wins and hat tricks in front of the Islanders players and coaches. That’s a tough spot for them to be in during what’s supposed to be a strong home ice presence, but that’s life at a Barclays Center that makes me pine for Nassau Coliseum. 

TURNING POINT: The Bruins gave up the first goal of the game on a bad Brandon Carlo turnover in the D-zone, and it could have gone against them in the second night of a back-to-back on the road. But the Bruins dug in, reversed the momentum and instead found the Bergeron line to lead the way with their first goal scored in the game. After that they just continued to pour on the hard work, the offense and the Bergeron goals as he scored three overall and the Bruins rode the momentum wave into five goals and a strong finish in the third period. In two straight games the Bruins have given up the first goal, and it doesn’t even cause them to bat an eyelash. 

HONORABLE MENTION: On the second  night of a back-to-back game Zdeno Chara logged 25:32 of ice time, blocked four shots including a couple during a penalty kill that left him shaking his right hand in pain on the bench and threw three hits while holding the high-powered Islanders to just a couple of goals in the game. It wasn’t a particularly dazzling night of work for the 6-foot-9 defenseman, but the Isles really had limited offensive looks thanks to Chara playing big, strong and powerful in the defensive zone. The big ice time number is perhaps most impressive of all coming after Chara also played a big role in Boston’s win over the Habs at the Garden on Wednesday night. We’re still a long way away from Chara proving he can do this kind of thing night after night in the playoffs as a 40-year-old, but he showed a little something on Thursday night. 

BY THE NUMBERS: 15 – the number of consecutive games with a point for the Bruins as they’ve posted an 11-0-4 record over those games, and matched a 15-game point streak from the 2011-12 season in the year after they won the Cup. 

QUOTE TO NOTE: “I like the way we closed out the game in the third period. In a back-to-back there were issues at the beginning and ending of the game, and we fought through it and didn’t let the game get away from us. In the third period in their building they were going to make a push, and I thought we were really, really good in terms of generating the offense and keeping the puck away from the front of the net. I was proud of the guys for that. That was a good, strong finish.” –Bruce Cassidy to NESN postgame about what we liked most in the 5-2 win over the Isles. 


Bergeron notches hat trick as Bruins defeat Islanders, 5-2


Bergeron notches hat trick as Bruins defeat Islanders, 5-2

NEW YORK - Patrice Bergeron scored three goals to lead Boston to a 5-2 victory over the New York Islanders on Thursday night, giving the Bruins at least a point for the 15th consecutive game.

Brad Marchand had a goal and two assists as Boston improved to 11-0-4 since its last regulation loss Dec. 14 against Washington - its best stretch since going 15-0-1 from March 2-30, 2014. Ryan Spooner had a goal and an assist, and Anton Khudobin stopped 22 shots.

Jordan Eberle and John Tavares scored for New York, which has dropped seven of 10 - with each of the losses coming in regulation. Jaroslav Halak made 29 saves while facing fewer than 35 shots for the first time in his last 11 games.

Bergeron completed his third career hat trick - just 12 days after a four-goal, five-point night at home against Carolina - when he took a pass from Marchand, spun and fired the puck in from the left circle at 3:45 of the third period. It was his 19th goal of the season.

Tavares pulled the Islanders within two with about 5 1/2 minutes remaining with his 25th goal. Marchand capped the scoring with his 20th with just over a minute to go.

Boston won for the second straight night after giving up the first goal of the game in the first period. The Bruins did the same thing in a 4-1 win at home against Montreal on Wednesday night.

In this one, they took control with two goals in the second period and sealed it with two more in the third.

Spooner put Boston ahead 2-1 near the midpoint of the second. Off a faceoff in the Islanders' zone to Halak's left, Spooner backhanded the puck past the goalie for his seventh at 9:47.

Just 15 seconds after New York's Anders Lee was sent off for tripping, Bergeron extended the Bruins' lead to 3-1. After Torey Krug's initial shot went off Islanders defenseman Adam Pelech's leg, Bergeron got the puck on the right side and beat Halak for his 18th of the season with 6:11 left in the middle period. Krug got his 200th career assist.

Eberle got the Islanders on the scoreboard 7:35 into the game. Mathew Barzal intercepted Brandon Carlo's pass in the Bruins' zone and passed to a streaking Eberle, who beat Khudobin from the inside edge of the right circle for his 15th. Barzal got his 32nd assist and 47th point - both tops among all NHL rookies.

The Bruins tied it with 6:19 left in the first when Bergeron took a pass from Marchand and fired it past Halak from the inside edge of the right circle.