With 96 times shorthanded thus far this season, the Boston Bruins have had to kill the seventh-least amount of opposing power plays in the league.
That’s part of the reason (along with much better determination and puck movement) that the penalty kill has soared to 13th in the league from the deepest depths of the 30-team circuit.
The Bruins’ backliners deserve a bulk of the credit for the reduction in man-power disadvantages, including Dennis Wideman, who’s only logged six minutes in the box so far this season.
“When you keep your stick on the ice and just keep working hard, you’re going to stay out of the box,” Wideman said today after the Bruins practiced at Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington and before they left on their two-game road trip to Florida. “Obviously, the best penalty kill we can have is not taking any penalties. So I think we’ve done a pretty good job of staying out of the box.”
Fellow defenseman Mark Stuart, who’s racked up 26 PIM (but few that have cost the Bruins greatly) agrees that the club is doing the right things without the puck. And playing within the club’s system has lent itself to fewer situations where the only thing to do is take a penalty or watch the other team celebrate a goal.
“In the D zone, especially, we’re playing our positions, our areas, we’re not really chasing guys around too much. That’s when you tend to take (penalties) – if you get beat out of the corner and that’s your man, sometimes you take a hold or a hook,” said Stuart. “In the neutral zone or offensive zone, the game we play is about moving your feet and speed and moving the puck, so if we’re doing that, if we’re working hard, we’re fine.”
Wideman has another reason for the Bruins’ success at staying out of the box: better shift changes and shorter shifts.
“Most of the penalties that guys take are if you’re at the end of a shift or tired or something like that. And I think we’ve done a better job of taking short shifts this year … and that helps out a lot,” he said. “And I think we’ve done a great job of breaking puck out, so we’re not in our own zone a whole lot. So I think as far as that goes, that helps out a lot.”