Whistles while they work not the goal here
Of the threats the Canadiens pose — Carey Price’s stout goaltending, the sharpshooting abilities of Brian Gionta and Mike Cammalleri — perhaps the most significant concerns arise when the penalty boxes are filled.
During the regular season, Montreal scored on 19.7 percent of its power-play opportunities. It was the NHL’s seventh-best mark. Of Cammalleri’s 47 points, 21 (seven goals, 14 assists) came on the power play.
Their man-up prowess was even more pronounced in the six meetings with the Bruins. The Canadiens went on 28 power plays and converted on nine (32.1 percent).
The Bruins finished the year with an 82.6 percent efficiency rate on the penalty kill, 16th in the league. Although they averaged 13.6 penalty minutes per game (eighth-most in the NHL), the Bruins were shorthanded only 265 times (fourth-fewest).
Coach Claude Julien and his staff will be sure to emphasize discipline. But when they are whistled for penalties, the Bruins will have to keep their PK shifts short and active. At the end of the regular season, Julien settled on three forward pairs: Daniel Paille and Gregory Campbell, Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley, and Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. The Bruins will rotate five defensemen on the PK: Zdeno Chara, Johnny Boychuk, Dennis Seidenberg, Andrew Ference, and Adam McQuaid.
The more pressing issue is the power play. The Bruins concluded the regular season with the league’s 20th-ranked PP (16.2 percent). The Canadiens killed off 84.4 percent of their penalties, the league’s seventh-best clip.
Chara and Kaberle will man the blue line on the first unit. The first line of David Krejci, Milan Lucic, and Nathan Horton will join them. The staff is still working out the second unit. It most likely will feature Bergeron and Seidenberg at the points. Peverley, Marchand, Mark Recchi, and Michael Ryder are down-low candidates.
“I’ve seen better entries the last few games,’’ general manager Peter Chiarelli said during a conference call yesterday. “I see better chances with some traffic. I don’t just see us loading up and shooting from the point. I see our forwards more involved in moving the box around. That’s stuff the staff has been working on and the players have been working on the last few games.’’
Kampfer: Knee injury Steven Kampfer will not be available as a depth player in the first round. The defenseman suffered a knee injury on Saturday during Providence’s 3-2 win over Springfield. According to Chiarelli, Kampfer will miss at least two weeks. He was assigned to Providence last Wednesday. Kampfer hadn’t played with the big club since March 31.
The Bruins’ original plan was for Kampfer to play for Providence in at least two games. He could have been recalled for Sunday’s game against New Jersey or he could have remained with Providence for a third game. Kampfer then would have been brought back to the big club to serve as the No. 8 defenseman.
Now, if injuries strike the back end, Shane Hnidy will be first in line to suit up. Chiarelli said other fill-in candidates would be Matt Bartkowski, Andrew Bodnarchuk, and Colby Cohen.
No worries for Chara When the Bruins and Canadiens play Game 3 next Monday, it will be the first time Chara skates at the Bell Centre since he drove Max Pacioretty into a stanchion on March 8. The Montreal police opened an investigation into the incident. But Chiarelli has been informed that Chara will not face questioning, detainment, or any other such encounter with the authorities.
“I think this guy should be a strong Norris candidate,’’ Chiarelli said of Chara’s bid to be named the NHL’s best all-around defenseman. “I think he’s been very good this year. This incident may overshadow the fact that he’s deserving of the candidacy for the Norris. I think he had a real strong year. His game is not sexy. But his game is really, really effective. He showed this year that he can play at that level and continue to play at that level. I’m really impressed with the way he finished off after that incident.’’
Pacioretty, who suffered a concussion and a cracked vertebra, has been skating but has not practiced yet.
Khudobin to join team Anton Khudobin will serve as the No. 3 goalie behind Tim Thomas and Tuukka Rask. The Bruins acquired Khudobin from Minnesota at the trade deadline for Jeff Penner and the rights to Mikko Lehtonen. Upon his arrival, Khudobin made 16 appearances for Providence. He went 9-4-1 with a 2.40 goals-against average and a .920 save percentage. Had the 24-year-old been in Providence earlier, the farm club could have made a stronger push for the playoffs. Minnesota selected Khudobin in the seventh round of the 2004 draft. One round later, Nashville tabbed Pekka Rinne, perhaps Thomas’s nearest challenger for the Vezina Trophy.
The 2011 draft drawing will take place tonight. As part of the Phil Kessel trade, the Bruins own the Maple Leafs’ pick. Toronto finished with the ninth-worst record. The Bruins have a 2.7 percent chance of being selected first in the drawing. However, according to NHL rules, no team can advance more than four spots. At best, the Bruins would pick fifth, although the odds are not in their favor . . . NESN reported a 41 percent increase in ratings this season over last year. The network will air every first-round game . . . Chiarelli said approximately 10 P-Bruins will remain in Providence during the first round for depth.
Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.