The Bruins' power play gave fans fits all season as it was so frustrating to watch. In Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal matchup with the New York Rangers, it was as far from frustrating as you can get.
The team went 18-122 on the man advantage during the regular season. Then, the B’s go 6-on-5 with 1:22 left in in a do-or-die Game 7 versus the Maple Leafs and score two goals to tie the game at four, what gives?
In Game 1 against the New York Rangers, the Bruins scored a big powerplay goal off the stick of Torey Krug to tie the game at two goals apiece really catapulting the B’s offense and confidence on the man advantage.
“I just remember moving the puck to Marchy (Brad Marchand) and he was getting in the zone with speed on the power play and he curled and gave it to Dougie (Hamilton) and Dougie made a great play by drawing the guy out to him and then slid it over to me,” Krug said. “I had a lot of time to take a shot.”
The B’s power play looked fluid all night long. They had patience, form and were taking chances on Henrik Lundqvist. Something B’s fans did not see regularly before the post season started. The Black and Gold went 1-3 (33%) on the power play in the victory and improved their power play success rate to 4 for 23 (17.4%) during the playoffs. It is certainly not eye-popping, but it is a step in the right direction for a power play that has been awful in the past.
As Derek Dorsett skated to the sin-bin for two minutes during overtime, the B’s went on the power play and the complexion of the game changed in a hurry. Although they did not score, they seized complete control of the puck and game. Lundqvist needed to turn away six B’s power play shots in a matter of minutes and the Rangers never regrouped as a team.
Minutes later Brad Marchand scored his first goal of the post season on a beautiful back door pass from Patrice Bergeron to lift the B’s to the 3-2 overtime victory.
Rangers Head coach John Tortorella briefly described what happened in overtime.
“It was a surge,” Tortorella said. “We couldn’t stop them. We got spanked in overtime.”
The surge started with that man advantage for the Black and Gold. The B’s looked as if they had a plan on the power play instead of just dumping, chasing and then not shooting for a full two minutes.
Rangers Forward Ryan Callahan reiterated that the B’s power-play was tough to stop in overtime.
“I think they gained a lot of momentum off of their power play,” Callahan said. “They had a couple of good opportunities and in overtime I don’t feel we established the fore check too well. It seemed like we were dumping it in and they’re right out of the zone coming back at us and it’s tough on our defense. It’s tough on everybody when you don’t have the puck in their end.”
The Rangers finished 15th in the NHL on the penalty kill while the B’s ranked 25th on the power play during the regular season. If the B’s can create a mismatch like they did in overtime Thursday night and never allow the Rangers to regroup, this power-play could do some damage throughout the series and be a strength instead of the Achilles heel it was all season long.
Thanks to the play of Krug, and fellow rookie defensemen Matt Bartkowski—both lugged key minutes on a successful Providence Bruins power play all season—the Bruins power play had a new look to it, a dangerous look. Krug and Bartkowski are talented offensive defensemen who excel at moving the puck and finding the open man, especially on the power play. If the rest of the Bruins can feed off the power play energy these two young blue-liners bring, man advantages once again could be fun in Boston.
Adding a dangerous power play to their bag of tricks can do nothing but help a Bruins team that hasn’t seen a deadly power-play unit since the days of Marc Savard. Finding success of the power-play could be exactly the advantage the Bruins need to knock off the Rangers and head to the Eastern Conference Finals for the second time in three seasons.
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