In round one, the Boston Bruins made history when they eliminated the Montreal Canadiens from the Stanley Cup playoffs despite not scoring a single power play goal all series.
Things didn’t get much better from that point onward.
Right now the Bruins power play has a 7.5% success rate. That places Boston in 14th place in the postseason. The only two playoff teams with lower success levels are the New York Rangers and the Pittsburgh Penguins. Both of those teams were eliminated in round one. The Philadelphia Flyers one spot better, in 13th place, but their power play was almost twice as good as Boston’s (14.3%.) Strangely enough, the Flyers fell to the Bruins in round two, despite having a much better power play.
As a point of comparison, the Canucks power play is clicking at 25.8% at this point. That’s a long way from 7.5% and it makes the Canucks a much more dangerous team.
The Bruins won three playoff series despite their anemic power play. Can that possibly continue?
In game one, the Bruins power play went an awful 0-6. Sure, the Canucks performed just as poorly with the man advantage as Boston did, but that was an exception for them, not the rule. The Bruins power play has been close to terrible for the entire post season. During the regular season, Boston’s power play was running at 16.2% and was ranked 20th in the league. Only four teams with less successful power plays (Los Angeles, Phoenix, Pittsburgh & Nashville) made the playoffs and only Nashville won a round.
Many people want to place the blame on Tomas Kaberle, but we’re beyond the point of faulting a single player for the Bruins’ lack of success with the man advantage.
However, Bruins coach Claude Julien says that the power play is getting better:
“I think our power play was very good last night in moving the puck and creating some chances and was even better than Vancouver’s. We had more scoring chances than Vancouver did on the power play. If we’re going to criticize ours, we should criticize theirs at this stage of the playoffs.
That may be true, but it seems to make logical sense that the Bruins need to start actually scoring with the man advantage instead of keeping things even and creating chances.
When a team’s power play is struggling, their opposition realizes that they can take liberties with the players. They don’t fear retribution as much, because the power play isn’t really a threat. That’s the danger of having a woeful power play unit.
Julien tried to mix things up in game one. He put Zdeno Chara in front of the net and tried to see if he could put in a passable Dustin Byfuglien performance. It didn’t work. It also didn’t work when he tried it against Tampa Bay in game five.
“Obvously, on the power play he’s given us a different look and I thought he did a pretty good job,” said Julien. “He’s moving around pretty good and being a screen in front and not getting sucked into penalties. They were pretty hard on him at times, but he just did his job and got back up. I anticipate he’ll only get better as we use him there.”
The point is that there isn’t much time left for the power play to get better. Boston is three losses away from losing the Stanley Cup.
Chara’s slap shot from the point is a proven commodity that strikes fear into the hearts of pretty much everyone. Not using him in that role is taking a powerful weapon out of the Boston line-up.
Last playoffs the Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks had a power play that clicked at 22.5%. The Pittsburgh Penguins power play in 2009 was successful 20.6% of the time. Detroit in 2008? 18.9%. Anaheim’s power play in 2007 wasn’t spectacular, but the team still scored in 15.2% of their power plays.
All of those numbers are better than 7.5%.
Yes, the Bruins have succeeded thus far with a sad power play, but imagine how dangerous the team could be if it would actually score with the man advantage?