NHL Playoffs 2011: What's Wrong with the Boston Bruins Power Play?

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NHL Playoffs 2011: What's Wrong with the Boston Bruins Power Play?
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Heading into the 2010-11 Stanley Cup Playoffs many experts were on the fence as to whether or not the Boston Bruins or Montreal Canadiens would emerge victorious from their first round matchup.

The Bruins finished seven points ahead of the Canadiens in the regular season standings, which gave them home ice advantage, scored 30 more goals than the Habs (246-216) and allowed 10 less goals than the Canadiens as well.

For all intents and purposes, when you looked at the numbers, it appeared on the surface that the Bruins had the upper hand in this series.

Where the Montreal Canadiens looked to have the upper hand over the Bruins was on special teams, or more specifically, the power play.

The Habs owned the seventh best power play during the regular season with a 19.7 percent success rate. The Bruins? They emerged from the regular season with the 21st ranked power play, at a 16.2 percent success rate.

Montreal also owned the better penalty kill in the regular season, which netted out at a 84.4 percent efficiency rate. The Bruins? They ended the regular season with the league's 16th-ranked penalty kill at 82.6 percent.

On paper a couple of percentage points does not look like much, but a power play goal here and there can make all the difference in the world in a seven game series, as can a great penalty kill.

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Both a power play goal and a penalty kill can provide a team with a huge momentum change, not to mention the effect a timely or untimely goal can have on a team's fortunes on any given night.

Thus far the Bruins have been horrible on the power play. In fact, the Bruins are yet to capitalize on a power play opportunity, going 0 for 11 thus far.

Now, the Bruins are not alone here. The Pittsburgh Penguins have failed to score on the power play thus far, as have the San Jose Sharks.

As bad as the Penguins and Sharks power plays have been (and they have been bad), the Bruins power play has been abysmal, rarely developing any pressure down low and often void of any semblance of a plan. 

The Bruins are often caught out of position on the power play, rarely manning the boards, which makes for easy clearings for the Habs penalty killers.

Of course, given Montreal has killed all 11 of the Bruins power play attempts, they deserve a measure of credit, but have they really been “that good” or is this simply a case of Boston being “that bad”?

The truth is probably somewhere in the middle, but it appears as if Boston should probably bare the brunt of the blame for not getting it done when it matters most.

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When the Bruins acquired defenseman Tomas Kaberle it was thought that he would be the perfect addition to the Bruins stumbling power play.

Known for his tremendous passing abilities, Kaberle was thought to be the perfect compliment to Zdeno Chara’s booming point shot.

For whatever reason, Kaberle and Chara have failed to develop the type of chemistry Bruins management and fans were hoping for.

In fact, there are quiet a few fans out there that believe the Bruins power play is worse, not better, since the arrival of Kaberle to Beantown.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Montreal has had its fair share of struggles on their power play as well, going one for 12 thus far for an 8.3 percent success rate.

That said, the Habs are getting their fair share of chances. If not for some tremendous goaltending from Bruins netminder Tim Thomas they may have had a few more goals.

Without question, while the Habs are struggling to score on the power play they are getting a ton of pressure on the Bruins, resulting in a number of terrific scoring chances.

The Bruins? Not so much.

With the Bruins winning Monday night’s tilt, the Canadiens lead is now 2-1 in the series. As good as the Bruins were on Monday night Boston fans have to be concerned that their beloved Bruins are yet to score a power play goal.

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Had the Bruins scored on one of their four chances in Monday night's game, they could have buried the Habs, which in turn would have given the Bruins a measure of breathing space and perhaps thwarted the Habs comeback attempt.

One thing is for sure: Should the Bruins fail to win this series one of the major reasons will likely be their inability to score on the power play.

If the Bruins have any chance of winning this series they will have to find a surge on their power play, ‘cause right now, the Bruins power play is anything BUT powerful.

Until next time,

Peace!

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