BOSTON – It’s becoming a fact of life in the playoffs that the Bruins are going to live and die with their power play.
It was true all season while they were a team in the bottom third of the NHL during 5-on-5 play and it’s been true in the Stanley Cup playoffs when the Bruins aren’t nearly as effective offensively when the man advantage isn’t firing properly. It happened again in Saturday night’s 3-2 double-overtime loss in Game 2 to the Columbus Blue Jackets as the Bruins second PP unit managed to secure a goal, but their top unit was toothless against an extremely good Blue Jackets penalty kill.
If John Tortorella was singing its praises after the game was over, then you know the Columbus penalty kill had a field day for themselves against the Black and Gold.
“It’s an important part of the game that’s for sure. It could have gotten away from us there,” said Tortorella. “I just liked our desperation as far as killing penalties, blocking shots. [It’s a] really important part of the game.”
The Bruins went 1-for-4 on the PP counting Matt Grzelcyk’s first period goal, but they also wasted a three-plus minute power play in the second period after Josh Anderson bloodied Sean Kuraly under his eye with a pretty reckless high-sticking infraction. Top offensive guns like Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand had their chances during even strength, but it was on the power play where Bruce Cassidy was disappointed with their play.
That doesn’t even get into the major issues that David Pastrnak seems to be having hanging onto the puck, and the cross-ice passes that are continually getting deflected and cleared away by the active Columbus sticks on the penalty kill.
“I think where they could’ve done better tonight as a group, but they’re part of that group, is the power play. Clearly, that’s the place to get going offensively, and we didn’t execute well enough,” said Cassidy.
“We got a goal off of [the power play], but really, it was not nearly to the level those guys have executed all year. Columbus has good sticks. You have to respect that.
“We’re forcing plays and not executing the plays we should, and they’re part of that group, so that’s where – if I’m going to lay blame on [Bergeron and Marchand] – it’s more in that [power play] area than 5v5.”
The good news in all of this for the Bruins? When they struggled on the power play last round vs. Toronto, it was temporary and in the next game, they returned to the form that made them a top-5 power play unit in the NHL pretty much all season. That should be the case again as the series moves to Columbus for the next couple of games, and the Bruins will need to their special teams to be in tip-top shape in order to wrest back control of this best-of-seven series.
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