Bruins notebook

Power play is still having trouble connecting

By Kevin Paul Dupont
Globe Staff / March 2, 2011

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KANATA, Ontario — A good power play typically features sharp, intelligent passing and quick shooting. It’s usually a five-man unit that moves as one. Speed. Synchronicity. Guile. A shooter with a quick release (think Mike Bossy, circa 1982 Islanders) can be an especially fine asset.

That said, it’s all the better if it can score.

“You look at it, and at the end of the day, we’re getting a lot more scoring chances,’’ said Bruins coach Claude Julien prior to last night’s 1-0 shutout of the Senators. “But to improve, it has to finish. Eventually you have to bury them. I think we can get better there.’’

To give the power play a power boost, the Bruins acquired defenseman Tomas Kaberle from Toronto, essentially to provide point blaster Zdeno Chara with a partner to toss him the puck. Kaberle, a master passer, has come just as advertised, delivering his spot-on relays, leaving Chara to fire away from the right faceoff circle or just above it.

For all the good look and fine feel, though, the power play has not delivered. In their last four games — victories at Calgary, Vancouver, Edmonton, and Ottawa — the Bruins were 0 for 8 on the man-advantage. That’s not horrible, because eight chances over four games is a minimal test sample.

They went 0 for 2 last night.

On one of the advantages, Kaberle was at his best, dishing to Chara for a sizzling one-time that Craig Anderson turned back with a sharp blocker save.

“On the power play, you either have to score, or get some momentum from it,’’ Julien said after the win. “One thing about it tonight, we seemed to spend the full two minutes in their end. Yeah, you want to work on the finish, like I said, but you can see it’s working and it gives us momentum every time it’s out there.’’

Kaberle remained at the left point for the full two minutes, with Chara yielding to Dennis Seidenberg for the final 25-30 seconds. Up front, Julien has rolled out David Krejci with linemates Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton as the No. 1 unit. The No. 2 unit has featured Patrice Bergeron between Mark Recchi and Michael Ryder.

Rask is back Tuukka “The Future’’ Rask, the winner in Edmonton Sunday night, was back in net last night, the second time on the six-game road trip that he earned back-to-back starts.

With the 1-0 shutout of Ottawa, Rask is now 9-11-1 but has four straight wins. It’s almost as if the Bruins “reacquired’’ Rask prior to the Feb. 28 trade deadline, or at least he reacquired his game.

“You know what? His practices have been a lot better,’’ said general manager Peter Chiarelli. “A lot sharper. And in fairness to Tuukka, he needs games to get on a little bit of a roll, too.

“He has been able to play, contribute, and Tim [Thomas] has been able to get rest.’’

Rask continued his strong play last night, stopping 33 shots.

Look for Thomas, who has won his last two starts after posting a pair of losses, to get tomorrow night’s start at the Garden against the Lightning.

All was quiet According to Chiarelli, none of his fellow GMs made a serious attempt to pick his pocket prior to the trade deadline — i.e. trying to steal the first-round pick he owns from the September 2009 deal that sent Phil Kessel to Toronto.

“They did earlier,’’ he said. “We had talked about one deal, but that went by the wayside from both sides. There are some guys who take runs at certain players and certain picks — like that one — but outside of that one discussion, I’ve been pretty consistent [in not entertaining the idea of trading it], so they can figure it out.’’

The Leafs have been better of late — and Kessel has been exceptionally productive after a protracted drought — but it’s still possible that the Toronto pick will end up in the top five.

Looking to the future Some clubs have been busy in recent days signing players to extensions. On trade deadline day, the Red Wings announced a two-year deal (cap hit: $2.25 million) for goalie Jimmy Howard, and yesterday the Sharks tied up goalie Antti Niemi to a four-year extension that will pay the ex-Blackhawk an average $3.8 million per season. Niemi’s agent is Chicago-based Bill Zito, who represents both Thomas and Rask . . . Chiarelli remains eager and hopeful about signing Kaberle to an extension. The prized Czech passer is on target to become an unrestricted free agent July 1. According to Chiarelli, he spoke briefly with Kaberle’s agent, Rick Curran, the day the Bruins dealt for the ex-Leaf and the two sides agreed not to talk contract until the season was over. “It was in a very postive light,’’ said Chiarelli, “and I am very optimistic.’’ The bet here on Kaberle’s new deal: three to four years in the $4 million-$4.5 million range . . . The Bruins fired off 49 shots, but only 21 made it to the net. The Senators attempted 69 total, and 33 made it to Rask. It was Rask’s second shutout of the season, leaving him a handful shy of Thomas’s seven . . . Along with his great work setting up Boston’s goal, Bergeron won 6 of 7 drops at the faceoff dot. He also made a perfect cross-crease feed to Mark Recchi early in the second that should have been a goal, had it not been for Derek Smith’s expert block in front of Anderson.

Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at

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