Bruins power play may rank high, but it's disappointing vs. Caps


Bruins power play may rank high, but it's disappointing vs. Caps

The Bruins rank fourth overall in the NHL with a power play that has scored nearly 28 percent of the time, but how much good is an effective power play if a team is very rarely on the man-advantage?


The Bruins didn’t look like world-beaters when they failed to score on a four-minute power play at the start of the third period Saturday night after a high-sticking call on Brooks Orpik. That proved to be one of the differences in the B’s falling to the Washington Capitals 3-2 at TD Garden. Orpik clobbered David Pastrnak with a dirty high-sticking infraction that cut open the 21-year-old’s chin and the B’s couldn’t even cleanly enter the zone in the ensuing four minutes of power play time.

In fact, the Capitals outshot the Bruins 3-2 in those four minutes. That inability to do anything made a late Pastrnak PP goal meaningless in the one-goal loss. Some of Boston’s initial disorganization might have been because the bloodied Pastrnak was getting stitched up on the bench while Boston’s top PP unit was on the ice without him, but Bruce Cassidy wasn’t hearing it.  

“There were enough good players out there and certainly we didn’t look organized on our entries. We didn’t change anything on them, so you’ve got to give Washington some credit for putting some heat on us, and then we’ve got to...we can’t absolve ourselves of the responsibility, not the appropriate play,” said Cassidy. “That was disappointing. It was an opportunity to get back in the game and eventually the power play did score to around back in the game, but you’d like to see it a little bit earlier and a little smoother because it’s been a strength of our team. Absolutely we needed to be better there.”

The Bruins rank 23rd in the NHL with 43 power-play chances in 12 games and they’ve only generated 18 power plays in the past six games while getting waylaid by injuries up and down the lineup. Both Zdeno Chara and Pastrnak were visibly angry in the victory over Vegas on Thursday night after not getting calls following clear slashing infractions. On Saturday night, the Bruins went without any power-play chances in the first two periods of the game.

The lack of any PP action could certainly be another factor in the special teams’ rustiness for the B’s when they finally did get the four-minute PP at the start of the third period, but the players inside the Bruins dressing certainly weren’t using that as an excuse. Instead, Patrice Bergeron was frustrated at the stagnant zone entries through the neutral zone where the Bruins weren’t gathering any speed or momentum for the attack.

“We can give [Washington’s penalty kill] credit, but at the same time we had no speed and you know if you do that it’s definitely going to…as a penalty killer I want that,” said Bergeron. “It’s easier to defend. I think we definitely have to talk about it and regroup and do a better job.

“We had some really good looks [later in the third period]. I thought we had some good shots, good traffic, and, you’re right, at the end we came close a few times. But the bottom line is it’s tough to let those points slip by [after] a tough start.”

It’s also tough to watch a team on the power play when it’s clear that those special-team chances are going to have to carry the day for the Bruins with so many key offensive players missing. 

Talking Points: Khudobin keeps rolling in shootout win


Talking Points: Khudobin keeps rolling in shootout win

GOLD STAR: Who else but Anton Khudobin? The Bruins backup netminder improved to 6-0-2 on the season and upped his NHL-leading save percentage to .938 while making 40 saves in a shootout win over the New Jersey Devils. Khudobin was outstanding stoning players like Nico Hischier and Blake Coleman on breakaways, and stood tall in the third period while the Bruins were outshot 15-5 and ended up tying the game. Even better Khudobin was super-competitive in the shootout where he was challenging shooters, and even stared down Hischier after he poke-checked the puck away from him on his attempt. The Bruins don’t win Wednesday night’s game without Khudobin playing the way he did, and that should pretty much guarantee that he plays again on Friday afternoon against the Penguins.

BLACK EYE: One shot and one hit in 8:28 of ice time for Jimmy Hayes in his first game against his old Bruins team, so pretty much par for the course from the underachieving big guy. Hayes has scored a couple of goals for the Devils this season, but he’s been mostly the same as in the past with sporadic scoring, intermittent tough guy play in the danger areas and then long stretches where you don’t even notice the 6-foot-6 guy out on the ice. Of the two ex-Bruins forwards going up against their old team tonight, Drew Stafford was by far the better of the two with three shots on net and at least one pretty decent scoring chance among them after stealing a puck from Frank Vatrano.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins set things up for their shootout win with a strong opening first period when it came to finishing off plays. Yes, they were outshot by a 15-10 margin, but they also made two big plays with Jake DeBrusk scoring a goal and then David Pastrnak setting up Patrice Bergeron for his fifth goal of the season. Beyond that Anton Khudobin also stopped 14 pucks in the first period that included a number of scoring chances for the Devils, and it showed what the Bruins are capable of when they’re on the right side of some key plays early in the game. Sure, the Devils clawed their way back in, but the Bruins felt like they had the game in control because of the work they put in during the first period.

HONORABLE MENTION: Charlie McAvoy led all skaters with a game-high 27:04 of ice time, and played a strong game while totaling three shots on net and three blocked shots. But he saved the real good stuff for the 11th round of the shootout when he threw a nifty stick move at Cory Schneider, and then roofed a backhanded attempt in tight and close to the net. The McAvoy shootout move begged the question why it took so long to get to him, but also mercifully closed out a shootout session that felt like it could have gone on forever between the Bruins and Devils. The finishing move from the 19-year-old was pure, unadulterated skill with the puck.

BY THE NUMBERS: 1 – the first NHL career point for Matt Grzelcyk arrived in the first period when he picked up an assist on a lead pass off the boards that freed Jake DeBrusk up for a goal-scoring rush.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “It’s the end of a road trip, so give the guys credit. They dug down deep and found a way to get the two points.” – Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy,  


Bruins outlast Devils in 11-round shootout


Bruins outlast Devils in 11-round shootout

NEWARK, N.J. Charlie McCoy scored in the 11th round of the shootout to lift the Boston Bruins to a 3-2 win over the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday night.

Anton Khudobin made 40 saves as Boston improved to 9-7-4 with its third straight win-all with Khudobin in goal.

Jake DeBrusk and Patrice Bergeron scored first period goals for the Bruins.

New Jersey has dropped three of its last five in falling to 12-5-4.

Jesper Bratt and Brian Gibbons scored for the Devils, and Cory Schneider made 27 saves.

The shootout opened with Hall and David Pastrnak trading goals. And it stayed that way until McAvoy's game-winner

Prior to the extra period, the first of three regular season meetings between the longtime Eastern Conference rivals was essentially a special teams affair.

Despite not scoring on their four power plays and surrendering a man advantage goal to the Devils, it was the Bruins who left with two points thanks to two first period even strength strikes and the play of their ostensible backup goaltender.

The Bruins struck first when rookie left winger DeBrusk opened the scoring with his fifth of the season with a shot from the right circle at 1:25. And Bergeron added to Boston's lead with his fifth of the season at 11:02.

The Bruins had a two-goal lead and Khudobin, who made his third straight start, tried to make it hold up with a pad save on a Nico Hischier break-in with and a diving stop on Travis Zajac in a span of 1:13. But there was nothing he could do on Bratt's power play goal with 2:50 left as New Jersey's rookie right winger lifted a loose puck in the slot to halve the deficit while Brian Boyle was tied up with Zdeno Chara in front of Khudobin. A video review upheld the goal.

The game remained 2-1 until the Devils equalized on Gibbons' top-of-the-crease deflection with 4:44 left in regulation. Up to that point, though, Khudobin was the story as the netminder stopped a Blake Coleman shorthanded attempt with 10:35 left in the second. Khudobin also benefitted from Hischier, the first overall pick in last June's NHL draft, losing control of the puck alongside the goal line late in the period. Midway through the third, Khudobin stoned Hischier from the top of the crease.

The Devils outshot the Bruins, 42-29.

NOTES: Prior to the game, New Jersey announced RW Kyle Palmieri would miss 4-6 weeks with a broken right foot, suffered in the Devils' 4-3 overtime win in Minnesota Monday. The team later announced Palmieri had been placed on the injured reserve retroactive to Monday. .New Jersey scratched D Dalton Prout and RW Stefan Noesen. .Bruins C Ryan Spooner dressed for the first time since suffering a torn right adductor on Oct. 15. .Boston scratched LW Matt Beleskey, D Torey Krug and D Paul Postma. .The Bruins did not have LW Anders Bjork (undisclosed), LW Brad Marchand (upper body injury), RW David Backes (colon surgery) and D Adam McQuaid (broken right fibula). .Boston announced RW Jordan Szwarz had been sent down to AHL Providence. .The Devils announced Friday's home game against Vancouver will coincide with the team hosting the NHL and NHLPA "joint initiative Hockey Fights Cancer" as part of the "annual Cancer Awareness Month."


Bruins: Host Pittsburgh Friday afternoon.

Devils: Host Vancouver Friday night.