Power outage continues
Switches can’t light special teams play
With their next game not until Wednesday, the Bruins will hold a rare Sunday practice today at Wilmington Arena, where part of the session should center on jacking up the power play.
The Bruins went on the man advantage four times during their 2-0 loss to San Jose yesterday. In eight minutes of power-play time, they put only one puck on Antti Niemi — far too few to create any kind of momentum.
“Definitely our power play tonight had a tough time,’’ said coach Claude Julien. “Tonight was probably one of the tougher times we’ve had at getting the puck in. When we did get it, we weren’t winning the battles for loose pucks, and they kept shooting it back down the ice. That was probably the biggest difference in tonight’s game.’’
Even when the Bruins executed their breakouts and crossed the offensive blue line, they couldn’t set up in their preferred formations and put heat on Niemi. By the final power play, which came halfway through the third period after Joe Thornton was called for tripping, Julien sent out a new No. 2 unit. Andrew Ference and Dennis Seidenberg manned the point, while Tyler Seguin, Milan Lucic, and Nathan Horton were the down-low forwards.
The Bruins have gone 0 for 12 on the power play in their last five games. It is no coincidence they’ve been without Marc Savard in those five games, although Julien liked what he saw from the power play Thursday in a 6-3 win over Dallas.
“Tonight was certainly not one where we would say our power play was good,’’ Julien said. “The other night against Dallas, even though we didn’t score, our power play was good. We moved the puck well and we had some chances. We didn’t score, and at the end of the night you say you have to score some goals. But at the end of that night, we had some good chances. We really felt our power play had taken a stride in the right direction.
“Tonight was a totally different case. We weren’t good enough in that area. This is our best players having to be at their best.’’
The Bruins have the league’s 21st-ranked power play (16.8 percent). It is one area they are looking to improve prior to the trade deadline.
Sitdown with Savard General manager Peter Chiarelli met with Savard and agent Larry Kelly at TD Garden yesterday, another apparent step in declaring Savard’s season over. If Savard is considering retirement, that discussion will take place in the offseason once the 33-year-old’s postconcussion syndrome symptoms wane.
The Bruins will place Savard on long-term injured reserve for the second time this season. By doing so, they will be eligible to exceed the cap by Savard’s $4.007 million annual hit.
The Bruins will use the savings to consider additions at defense and forward. Ideal upgrades would be the likes of Toronto’s Tomas Kaberle and Carolina’s Tuomo Ruutu, but neither player’s availability is guaranteed. Kaberle has a no-trade clause, while Ruutu’s Hurricanes are still in the hunt for a playoff spot.
Center to wing With Zach Hamill taking over third-line center duties, Seguin shifted to right wing on the fourth line. Shawn Thornton, who usually mans the position, moved to the left side with Gregory Campbell in the middle. Seguin submitted a 0-0—0 game in 8:57 of ice time.
“I think Soupy at center is a good player for that line,’’ said Julien before the game. “It takes some of the responsibility away from Tyler and lets him focus on the offense a little bit more. Use his speed and stuff like that. Right now, we feel that’s the best scenario for our team.’’
Seguin had been skating on the third line. In the first two games of Savard’s absence, Seguin centered Blake Wheeler and Michael Ryder. But Seguin didn’t play well at either end of the ice while centering the line, and saw his time trimmed in the third period against the Panthers.
Against Dallas Thursday and Carolina Tuesday, Seguin played right wing while Wheeler moved to center. Seguin scored the pivotal fifth goal in Thursday’s win, but played only 7:35, his third-lowest workload of the season. Seguin played only 6:37 against the Hurricanes.
Paille sits out Daniel Paille began serving his four-game suspension for his hit on the Stars’ Raymond Sawada. Paille is eligible to return Feb. 15 against Toronto . . . Zdeno Chara appeared in his 900th career game and Tim Thomas made his 300th appearance . . . Mark Stuart was the healthy scratch for the sixth straight game. Stuart, an unrestricted free agent at season’s end, has not had talks with the Bruins about a contract extension . . . Adam McQuaid, who decked Dallas’s Brian Sutherby with a right to the chin Thursday, dropped the gloves again yesterday. This time, he tangled with Ben Eager. McQuaid had to visit the dressing room for repairs after the fight. But Eager was tagged with an additional roughing minor, giving the Bruins a first-period power play. “I’d been out there for a while and wasn’t given much of a choice there,’’ said McQuaid, who had bumped Eager several times before the fight. “Maybe in a better situation, things might have looked better.’’ McQuaid asked Eager for a rematch later in the game; Eager didn’t oblige . . . San Jose recalled former Boston University captain John McCarthy from Worcester but he was a healthy scratch.
Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.