It's no secret that in playoffs, the Boston Bruins power play has been as effective as trying to boil a pot of water over a lighter. Yet every time the refs arm goes up, Claude Julien trots out the same cheap Bic to try to get the water rolling.
Recently they've gone so far as to move the league's biggest flamethrower from the back end to the front of the net to screen Roberto Luongo(notes) from … I guess Tomas Kaberle's(notes) shot, which is incidentally the name of my yacht, which also doesn't exist.
If the B's hope to keep pace with the Vancouver Canucks in the Stanley Cup Final with a win in Game 2 on Saturday night, they've got to better understand the pieces they've got, and make proper use of them. Things derail when they start thinking they can run a power play like Tampa's.
Now, I've spent a good chunk of my lifetime silently hating fans that yell "shooooooooooooot" at their team on the power play. Each unit is set up to create certain looks, and that guy running the power play who won't shoot has a better idea of just what that look is than the guy in section 212. He also has a better idea if there's a shooting lane, if the screen is set up and all that stuff.
But when the B's actually listen to that guy, as they appeared to in Game 1, their power play really starts to warm up. While they didn't score on Wednesday (dropping their conversion rate to 7.5 percent), they did generate 12 shots over six power plays, and if it weren't for Luongo's solid positional play, they could have easily put themselves on the board.
With a few tinkers, their power play has potential to get hot — that's not something you could've said with a straight face a few weeks ago.
I'll use the first unit as the example (when they use their top line and a D-pair, so nobody yell at me about Patrice Bergeron(notes)), because the second unit has Mark Recchi(notes) on it, so a column on how to fix the Bruins PP2 would be very, very short.
Height is not important to be able to stand in front, but strength is. You could put any strong player on your team in that spot — it seems almost comical that they have Milan Lucic(notes) out there, a guy who was born to own that position, and he's not being used there. The good Lord may have actually custom-designed him for that exact location on this planet — he has the size, edge, hands, everything.
So why would you waste a shot like Chara's (speaking of God-given talents) and put him in the only spot on the ice where cross-checking is basically permitted? The guy logs nearly 30 minutes a game for the B's, so I'm sure he could do without the 95 bonus crosschecks to his lower back.
(If Lucic is too hurt to stand there, replace him with anyone who isn't Big Z — just let the guy use his Hardest Shot in the league, please.)
Then there's Tomas Kaberle. Like most people, I thought he was a great acquisition for the Bruins and now don't, but hindsight is 20/20. The Bruins are a power play that needs shots and has no pure shooter (aside from Chara), so picking up a disher may not have been the world's best idea. But they don't have a time machine, and he's still a smart offensive player. You gain more having him out there than you would if you put some random D-man in his place, so you need to continue having him man the point.
From there, the Bruins need to run the type of power play you'd teach a developmentally delayed bantam team. It's not fun — I hated running this type of power play — but with the personnel they have they could dominate. You simply have one guy up top (Kaberle) who's gives soft toss to his two shooters, lefty Zdeno Chara and righty Nathan Horton(notes), while big Milan Lucic screens and gets rebound hungry, and David Krejci(notes) lurks in the weeds.
It's basically your old-school umbrella, but that's not the important part. The emphasis needs to be placed on the guy on the non-shooting side, who needs to drift lower towards the net for high rebounds, meaning you've got three players sniffing out loose pucks at different depths: one on top of the goalie (Lucic), one in the middle (Krejci), and one higher (Horton or Chara).
That first Boston unit can be a quality group, but at times they seem unwilling to accept that they are smart, hard-nosed players who will never be the Sedins, and therefore can't attempt to run anything as pretty as Vancouver can. I hate sounding like old coaches of mine, but this team just happens to be built to play a certain way.
Things looked better for them in Game 1 as they weren't afraid to pull the trigger. The next step is to layer those rebound hunters, and pucks will start going in for them.
Simplicity is the answer for the Bruins power play.