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. 

Morning Skate: Kelly to Ducks, Plekanec to Leafs

NBC Sports Boston Photo

Morning Skate: Kelly to Ducks, Plekanec to Leafs

Here are the all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while nothing could be finer than a Sunday spent in Buffalo. 


*Congrats to Chris Kelly, who parlayed his captaincy with Team Canada into a one-year contract with the Anaheim Ducks for the rest of this season. 


*A very good move by the Maple Leafs to land Montreal center Tomas Plekanec, who is definitely a guy that gets under the skin of Bruins center David Krejci if Boston and Toronto do indeed meet in the first round of the playoffs. 


*Patrik Elias gets the hero’s treatment from the New Jersey Devils after a fantastic career with the organization. 


*Do not get on the goaltenders in St. Louis with mock cheers, or you will surely feel the wrath of Vladimir Tarasenko. 


*What happens when an excellent, electric hockey game gets in the way of a trade deadline where the Montreal Canadiens are selling off pieces? 


*For something completely different: Here’s an excellent piece on the work of NBC production people back in Stamford, Connecticut that are the backbone of the Olympics coverage that everybody has come to know and love. 


Bruins sign Gionta to a one-year deal as "depth, veteran leadership" piece

File Photo

Bruins sign Gionta to a one-year deal as "depth, veteran leadership" piece

BUFFALO – Amid rumors that Brian Gionta might be linked to Boston ahead of Monday’s trade deadline, the Bruins have signed the 39-year-old former Cup champion to a one-year deal coming off his Olympic stint with Team USA in PyeongChang. Gionta agreed to a one-year, one-way deal with the Bruins for $700,000, which makes much more sense as a 13th forward/depth piece after the Bruins also finalized their blockbuster trade for Rick Nash with the New York Rangers

The 5-foot-7, 178-pound Gionta had 15 goals and 35 points for the Buffalo Sabres last season, but had sat out all of this year with the chance to compete in the Olympics this past month before hooking on with an NHL team for the final few months of the season. The former Boston College standout will certainly add an experienced, veteran option for the Bruins should some of their younger wingers hit any kind of a competitive wall down the stretch. 

"Depth and veteran leadership and a player that's highly motivated,” said Bruins GM Don Sweeney, when asked what Gionta brings to the table. “He waited to see what clubs might have been in a position to be in the playoff race and we hope we can continue to be one those clubs and he's going to add to that."

What isn’t expected is that Gionta will be a regular, every day member of the Bruins lineup unless injuries or underperformance creep into players’ games in the final few months of the season, or into the playoffs. Instead the Bruins will be bringing on a former captain with the Montreal Canadiens and Buffalo Sabres that’s won a Stanley Cup on his NHL resume, and has posted 32 goals and 68 points in 112 career playoff games during his 1,000 plus career NHL games. 

Gionta wasn’t available to play with the Bruins for Sunday’s late afternoon tilt against the Buffalo Sabres, but will instead get worked into the Black and Gold mix when the Bruins resume practicing Tuesday in Boston.