Philadelphia head coach Peter Laviolette sounds like a man impressed by the Bruins’ ability to win a first-round series in seven games without scoring on the power play.
However, he doesn’t sound like a guy intent on his team copying the approach that saw Boston fail 21 times while a man up.
“I guess there are lots of things that pop up and catch your attention at different times,” Laviolette told the media after his team’s practice today. “Certainly power plays can wis series, and penalty kills can win series. I guess that just proves [you can’t] say that it can’t win.”
The Flyers, who open their Eastern Conference semifinal series with the Bruins tomorrow at the Wells Fargo Center, didn’t fall into a ditch as deep as Boston’s on the power play in the first round. But they struggled to score with the man-advantage until late in their seven-game win over Buffalo. The Flyers were just 2-for-26 through five games, and then went 3-for-9 over the last two — both victories.
The return of defenseman Chris Pronger certainly had something to do with the improvement.
“He’s a smart player even on the breakouts,” said Flyers forward Claude Giroux. “Anytime you are on the PK or not and Chris is on the point you kind of know he is there. He will try to get the pass away or whatever their plan is, and he kind of opens up the other stuff.”
“Pronger on the power play definitely adds a calming effect out there,” added Scott Hartnell. “Even in Game 6, where he only played 4 1/2 minutes on the power play, you could really tell that we were getting things set up. We were getting the shots that we wanted to from the one timers on either side of him. The other team has to respect him; has to respect his shot, respect his play making ability and we are excited to have him play for a full series.”
The Bruins’ penalty kill finished the Montreal series with a 21-for-27 success rate, which looks subpar until you remember the Habs scored twice 5-on-3 in Game 6. The Flyers know they’re going to be up against a Bruins penalty kill with a solid pedigree and power play that might begin to produce any day now.
“I really do [think special teams can be the difference],” said Giroux. “I really feel that the power play can win you games. To get three goals on the power play, that’s pretty good. I think we are going to have to be responsible and stay out of the box.”