2011 Stanley Cup Finals: What Is Wrong with the Boston Bruins' Power Play?

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2011 Stanley Cup Finals: What Is Wrong with the Boston Bruins' Power Play?
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Is this the best place for Chara to be?

In last night's game between the Vancouver Canucks and the Boston Bruins, there were 13 penalties given. Because of a coincidental minor, each team ended up with six power plays. Neither team was able to convert on their multitude of penalty minutes, but going 0-for-0 on the power play should only worry one of the two Stanley Cup Final participants.

Vancouver came into the game scoring over 28 percent of the time on their power play. During the regular season, they led the league with a success rate over 24 percent. One might be able to say that Game 1's power play failures were a hiccup in the road for the Canucks. Unless this trend continues for Vancouver, they need not be worried.

Boston's power play has been abysmal all playoffs. On 21 chances against the Canadiens, they converted zero times, which was part of the reason the series went seven games. Even in their sweep of Philly, the Bruins went 2-for-16 with the man advantage. The Tampa series was a relative bright spot for Boston, going 3-for-24 in seven games. Coming into the Stanley Cup Final, Boston was an abysmal 8.2 percent. After going 0-6 in Game 1, their conversion rate dropped down to 7.5 percent.

Over the past few games, Claude Julien has at least recognized there is a problem with his power play. He has mixed up the lines and actually done some pretty dramatic things. The first power play unit that came out against Vancouver included three defensemen. Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg and Tomas Kaberle were out with Nathan Horton and David Krejci.

Paul Bereswill/Getty Images

Having three defensemen might make sense. The Bruins generally run an umbrella on their power play and having three players with heavy shots (or two, if you consider that Kaberle is known more as a passer from the top of the umbrella than a big time shooter) might be an advantage. But then something odd happened (not a reference to Chara winning a face-off, though that was pretty weird). Chara went to the front of the net. Does that make sense?

But he is a big body, right? How many times did NBC cut to the front of the net or show a replay of Roberto Luongo standing on his tippy toes, trying to crane his neck past Chara's 6-foot-9 frame? Being physical with Luongo is one of the keys to getting into his head, too. It is how the Chicago Blackhawks were able to completely reverse the momentum in the first round and storm back to force a Game 7.

But does it make sense to eliminate any chance for the player with the best slap shot in the league to shoot the puck? Couldn't another big, bad Bruin like Horton or Milan Lucic take up position in front of the net and give Chara a chance to unleash his 105 MPH slap shot? What's the point of having a screen if pucks don't get on goal? For the 12 power play shots that Boston got on Luongo, even more hit the boards behind Luongo. And maybe putting a skilled forward, instead of a defenseman with the biggest (and most cumbersome) stick, down low would give the Bruins better opportunities for tip-ins and deflections. Not to take anything away from the power that a guy like Seidenberg can get behind his slap shot, very few players in the league, let alone on the Bruins, approach the power that Chara has. Why give that up?

While the Boston power play has been absolutely terrible throughout the playoffs, I am not sure that the coaching staff has made the right changes. Maybe mixing up zone entries will allow the Bruins to get more time in the offensive zone. Maybe they should encourage more puck movement across the ice. The Canucks have been quite successful with cross ice passes on their power play. Actually, the best sequences for the Bruins power play last night were when they got puck movement started behind the net or in other areas low in the zone. Regardless, eliminating the fearsome shot of Zdeno Chara cannot be the right move.

What do you think the Bruins should do to make their power play more potent? Is moving Chara in front of the goalie the right thing to do? Comment below! 

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