BOSTON — Some might look at Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara’s move to the second power-play unit as a demotion, but head coach Claude Julien stressed after his club’s enormous 4-1 win over New Jersey today at TD Banknorth Garden that he made some changes to his power-play units for “the right reasons.”
For one, Chara became a shooting threat the second unit lacked. The captain was also able to lessen his workload a bit, as he skated for just 23:21 of ice time (1:54 on the power play). And, oh yeah, the newly formed first unit — featuring Marc Savard, Mark Recchi, Michael Ryder up front and Dennis Wideman and Matt Hunwick at the points — moved the puck tirelessly and popped in a couple pivotal goals.
“I think our power play, we zipped it around tonight. There was no dusting. We talked about that. All five of us, it was just bang, bang, bang, bang. It’s nice to see some results and the penalty kill was perfect. It’s a lot of fun when you do that stuff,” said Savard, whose goal and assist both came while the Bruins had a man-advantage.
The power play benefitted from a couple fortuitous bounces. Ryder scored from the slot when his redirect deflected off Devils defenseman Paul Martin’s skate and hit the back of the net. Savard’s goal also came after a Hunwick shot was blocked right to the playmaking center for a slap shot from the right circle. But when you’re doing all the right things, sometimes you get those breaks.
And as far as a demotion for Chara — who was out there with Andrew Ference, Patrice Bergeron, Chuck Kobasew and Phil Kessel for the brief time the second unit got on the ice — Wideman was quick to point out that the Bruins’ power play lives in an egalitarian system.
“I think we were trying to get two solid units and make two even ones. I don’t think we have a first and second unit. But the way it works, we happened to go out first there and we scored and then … it just depends on who’s on the ice and who’s fresh, who goes out first. We’re tying to make it so we have two units that anybody can start,” Wideman said.
Regardless of how you want to label them, the Bruins’ first and second units, their A and B units, their Abbott and Costello units, the only thing that matters is two goals in four opportunities and a huge win.