The Washington Capitals defeated the Boston Bruins on Saturday afternoon in double overtime. The series is now tied at one all as this matchup shifts towards our nation’s capital.
It is hard to argue that the Bruins have clearly dominated the early going of this series. The Bruins have recorded a combined 74 shots through two games but have managed to only find the back of the net twice.
The numbers have certainly favored the B’s thus far when both teams are at even strength. That is when the Bruins will take advantage because that style of play is where their strength lies. They like to make quick passes up ice and win battles along the boards in order to get a shot off.
As of right now, the problem with their game is the lack of production on the power play in the postseason.
Boston has gone 0-for-6 through two games with the man advantage. This situation should be all too familiar with Bruins’ fans. During last year’s Stanley Cup run, Boston converted on only 11.4% (10-for-88) of their power plays, which was third worst among playoff teams. The other two teams who finished below them in that category (Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers) were eliminated in the first round.
Winning the Cup with those numbers was nothing short of a miracle.
This postseason, there are two reasons why their power play has gotten off to a slow start. First, the Capitals are crashing the net, forcing the Bruins to spread the puck to the outside. This takes some of the pressure off of rookie goaltender Braden Holtby to make difficult stops.
Secondly, the Bruins should try mixing up the power play units that are on the ice. Zdeno Chara and Joe Corvo were both matched up with David Krejci, Milan Lucic, and Brian Rolston as the first unit.
At first glance, this group has everything you would want to see on a power play unit. There are two puck movers (Krejci and Corvo) with a shield in front of the net (Lucic) and two snipers for the point and top of the zone (Rolston and Chara respectively). The problem is that this unit lacks the speed to skate back and defend a possible breakaway. Also, sometimes there can be too much passing going on with multiple puck movers.
The second unit consists of Dennis Seidenberg at the top of the zone, Rich Peverley at the point, and the line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and Tyler Seguin in front of the net. While Seguin possesses the greatest scoring threat, this unit really lacks a big body and that makes shots easier to see for the opposing goaltender.
Depending on the line changes, the first power play unit could see 1:00 to 1:15 of ice time. Seguin was the Bruins’ leading scorer during the regular season with 29 goals and 67 points. He should really be out there on the first unit. Even though Corvo is a liability at the defensive end of the ice, he is known for his offense and being paired up with Chara should work.
Mixing Rolston, Lucic, and Bergeron in with Seguin up front might be a direction the Bruins should consider leaning towards.
It is still early enough for the Bruins to correct these problems. They should not want to end up in the spot they were in this time last year. There is nothing that could get as abysmal as that underachieving power play was in 2010-2011. It is just not possible.