The Bruins famously haven’t scored a power-play goal in their previous six games as they head into tonight’s Northeast Division showdown in Montreal.
The more galling number, however, might be the measly 12 attempts Boston’s man-advantage has had over that stretch.
Oddly, the Bruins’ inability to get its power play on the ice often has been a season-long trend. Entering their 7:30 p.m. match-up with the Canadiens, the Bruins rank 28th in the NHL with just 216 power-play opportunities.
All of the handful of Bruins players polled about the matter Monday after practice were in the dark as far as the club’s rank in power-play opportunities. When enlightened on the matter, none felt it was a major hindrance to the team’s success — after all, the Bruins are 7-0-1 in their last eight — but felt there could be some improvement in that area.
“I know it’s an important part sometimes of games, especially down the stretch and into the playoffs. A lot of times, a power play here or there can win you a game,” said center Gregory Campbell. “It’s about just working hard, playing in the offensive zone, being hard on the puck and making other teams hook us, pulls us down, trip us, whatever. A lot of it too is taking the puck to the net and being harder to play against into those areas.”
Winger Brad Marchand, whose job it is to not only score goals but draw infractions from opponents using his speed, his body and his mouth, joked that maybe players are afraid to get a stick up high on a Bruins player or crosscheck someone from Boston for fear of un-gloved retribution. But turning serious, he explained how Boston can bear down and draw more fouls.
“If you’re working teams down low, they’re going to have to hook and hold, and clutch and grab. That always tends to create penalties,” said Marchand, who leads the team with 1.2 penalties drawn per 60 minutes according to BehindTheNet.ca. “We want to play down low against Montreal. We’re a tough team 5-on-5 to play against, so we’re having fun battling 5-on-5. If we wind up getting power plays, that’s good, but we’re not too worried about it.”
The Bruins spent a large portion of Monday’s practice working on their down-low play. That will come in handy against the Habs, who rank second in the NHL in number of times shorthanded (265). There’s no doubt the personnel on the power play can do a better job, but if they can’t get on the ice there’s no time work on improving their success rate (which ranks 18th at 17.1 percent).