The Bruins’ power play, which ranked 23rd in the NHL in the regular season in 2009-10, has struggled again in the 2010 preseason.
While the personnel was different pretty much every night during Boston’s five North American-based preseason games, there still should’ve been enough talent and experience on the ice to click at a better rate than 2-for-21.
However, the Marc Savard-less Bruins have again looked punch-less on the power play, and it’s up to head coach Claude Julien and his staff to put together a couple of five-man units that can give Boston’s stalwart defense and goaltending some much-deserved breathing room in time for the start of the regular season next Saturday in Prague.
As always, TheBruinsBlog.net is willing to help set up lines or special teams groups even without being asked. So here’s a look at the power-play situation.
Zdeno Chara-Dennis Seidenberg
David Krejci-Nathan Horton-Michael Ryder
Chara’s eviscerating slap shot and Seidenberg’s subtle knack to make plays and find seams work well for a team striving to have two balanced quintets on the man-advantage. If you don’t use Horton on the PP, then it was a waste to bring him to town. Just like even strength, Krejci makes a perfect set-up guy for the sniping winger.
There’s a school of thought that Ryder has to earn PP time, but I made the case yesterday for playing him on the fourth line and giving him a chance to get his offensive game going with PP minutes. So I’ll stick to that for now.
I’m hesitant to have three right-handed shots up front, but Krejci does so many dazzling things it doesn’t matter which side he shoots from. Milan Lucic could easily replace Ryder if the Bruins need a left-handed shot or Ryder doesn’t find his touch.
Matt Hunwick-Johnny Boychuk
Patrice Bergeron-Tyler Seguin-Mark Recchi
If Hunwick plays up to his potential, he could be a perfect complement to “Johnny’s rocket” on the blue line. Recchi and Bergeron always work magic regardless of the man-strength situation and Seguin adds a dazzling dimension to this group that could back up defenders both in a set-up situation and on the rush. A forward like Seguin blazing up the ice with the puck would be the type of sight we haven’t witnessed with the Bruins in some time.
Obviously, there are a few options the Bruins can quickly switch to should these groups not work out at the start. Moving Bergeron to a point — something I am loathe to do — on the first unit would shift Seidenberg to the second group or the bench, and open up a forward slot for Lucic or Blake Wheeler. If Matt Bartkowski sticks around, he might be best utilized on one of the points instead of Seidenberg or Hunwick. The kid’s around and his offensive game is ahead of his defensive game, so why not use it while you’ve got it?
The best cure for Boston’s power-play ills will be the return of Savard. But until that time, the Bruins need to kick it into gear and have to be willing to juggle things more often until the right chemistry is forged. There’s no time to stubbornly stick with the same groups for weeks at a time. Playing the hot hand, or even the five hottest pairs of hands on one unit, could be the difference in the Bruins picking up points in the standings while they’re making due without Savard.