The once mighty Boston Bruins power play has been reduced to mortal status over the club’s last four postseason games. And it may as well have cost the Bruins home-ice advantage in their Eastern Conference semifinal series with Carolina because the Bruins failed on all four of their power-play opportunities in a Game 2 loss Sunday night.
After cashing in on four of their first nine power plays against Montreal, Boston has now put up a goose egg in its last 14 opportunities.
“We got on a good roll in the Montreal series. But right now, it’s not there,” said winger Mark Recchi, a key cog in the Bruins’ top power-play unit. “We’re creating some opportunities, but not as good as we should be with the talent level of players we have. We have to really just get back to the basics and start getting ugly. That’s the bottom line. We have to get pucks to the net, we have to get traffic.
“They’re great at fronting shots. Their forwards do a good job, their D do a good job and you have to give them some credit. They’ve done their homework and they know what they have to try to do to stop us. And now we have to make our own adjustments and make sure we’re better.”
Fourth during the regular season in power-play percentage at 23.6 percent, Boston is still a solid 21 percent through six postseason games. But obviously 0 percent over four games is a solid sign of inconsistency. For center Patrice Bergeron, who mans one of the points on the Bruins’ second power-play unit, Boston has to stop being too cute with the puck.
“I think we’re forcing plays instead of just keeping things simple,” said Bergeron. “Sometimes we’re looking for the perfect goal. We know that against a goalie like (Carolina’s Cam) Ward, we need more traffic in front, we need the rebounds. And the same thing on the power play. So it doesn’t change. We just have to make sure we have more people in front instead of staying on the perimeter.”
Head coach Claude Julien, whose team will get back into action Wednesday night for Game 3 of this tied series, said he talked to his coaching staff about the power play being a reflection of his club’s overall underwhelming play.
“We weren’t as sharp as we know we can be. Our decision-making yesterday was just iffy. All through on the power play, same thing. So I really assessed that as our power play was reflective of the rest of our game,” said Julien.
“I really thought we didn’t play as hard as we could’ve,” the coach continued. “We did, obviously, in the third period, we started playing with desperation and played a lot harder. But you need to play like that 60 minutes instead of 20.”
The Bruins didn’t practice today or do power-play video. But they’re sure to get cracking on the man-advantage both on and off the ice Tuesday before they leave for Raleigh. All the practice and video work in the world, however, won’t have an effect if the team doesn’t up its effort level to wear it was during the sweep of the Canadiens.
“I just think it’s us outworking them,” center Marc Savard about the key to getting the power play rolling again. “They get to those loose pucks quick and get them down the ice. I think if we just sharpen up and move the puck better — we’re dusting it off a little bit — and snap it around a little better and get in those areas, we’re going to be successful again.”