The Boston Bruins’ power play needs to be better. Sometimes, the most obvious statements are the most important ones and this is certainly the case with the Bruins right now.
In the midst of an 0-for-23 skid on the power play, the Bruins simply need to be better if they want to make a deep run in the playoffs. It would be easy to simply pass this off as a slump and blame it on David Pastrnak‘s absence from the lineup for the last five games. At the same time, though, the team can’t solely rely on No. 88 to create space or score goals for them when up a player.
Obviously Pastrnak is the team’s most integral piece on the power play and should command a lot of attention from opposing players. At the same time, though, there are other very capable players on the Bruins who should be able to get the job done at least once in a six-game span.
The last time the Bruins’ recorded a power-play goal came on April 2. Since then, the team has gone 0-for-5 against the Columbus Blue Jackets (the team they last scored against while on the power play), 0-for-4 against the Detroit Red Wings, 0-for-3 against the Tampa Bay Lightning, 0-for-4 against the Washington Capitals, 0-for-2 against the St. Louis Blues and 0-for-5 against the Ottawa Senators.
When watching the Bruins on the power play, it’s easy to see the frustration starting to settle in. While they are getting some good lucks and dealing with undeniable bad luck at times, there’s definitely a world of room for improvement in their approach to finally scoring that elusive goal. Forcing shots and trying to find the perfect play certainly isn’t conducive to breaking this scoreless streak, but that’s something the team is aware of despite their woes.
Matt Grzelcyk, who missed the Bruins’ 4-2 loss against the Blues and watched the game from the press box on the ninth floor of the TD Garden, had the following to say:
“Getting the chance to watch up top, we’re better when we’re moving the puck quickly. Maybe guys are just thinking a little bit too much. It’s something we address on video quite a lot the last few days and the last few weeks,” Grzelcyk said. “But going out there and executing [is tough].”
Following the Bruins’ loss to the Senators on Thursday, Grzelcyk had more thoughts on the team’s struggling power play.
“We’ve got to move the puck quickly and play off the shot a little bit more. Sometimes we’re trying to find a seam and it’s not there, and we’re forcing plays a little bit,” Grzelcyk said following the loss. “Maybe if we have a little more of a 5v5 mentality and get pucks to the net, we can get to the net and play off a rebound. And then that’s where the skill takes over.”
This assessment was a smart one given the fact that both of the Bruins’ goals Thursday came courtesy of tips in front by Marc McLaughlin and Jesper Froden. There’s a lot of value in getting the puck to the slot and letting skilled players take over and create second-chance opportunities. Unfortunately, the Bruins are getting in their own way right now and failing to put together these opportunities when up a skater on the power play.
Bruins Concerns Stretch Beyond Power Play Slump
While the power play struggles are hurting the Bruins, another concern is the rapid rate at which players are falling to injury as the playoffs loom. As mentioned by Ty Anderson during the game Thursday, the loss of Linus Ullmark after the first period meant the Bruins had lost at least one player to an in-game injury in five of their last six games.
Some of the more notable absences for the Bruins include Pastrnak, Ullmark, Hampus Lindholm and Brandon Carlo. Grzelcyk has since returned to action, but his absence was still felt.
Admittedly, it’s better to get this slew of bad luck, poor power play conversions and the like out of the way ahead of the playoffs rather than in the playoffs. Against, an obvious statement, but one that still needs to be said. At the same time, though, there’s no guarantee that the Bruins find a way to turn this around once the playoffs start which is where the concern starts to set in.
Injuries have been a major plague on the Bruins’ for what feels like half of a decade at this point. Consistently losing key players for long stretches of play is nothing new to this team, but the next-player-up mentality is hard to consistently reply upon in big-game situations.
The Bruins still need just one win to clinch a playoff berth, but they’ve faltered as of late and have dropped three straight games and four of their last five with the absence of Pastrnak. Something’s going to have to give if the Bruins are going to put it all together come playoff time. Some of this comes down to luck in regards to the injury front, but for the power-play production, preparedness and taking a more calm, methodical approach could go a long way to slowly getting back into a groove.
The beauty of the situation is that breaking out of an 0-for-23 powerplay slump only takes one goal.
Brandon Share-Cohen has covered the NHL and various professional sports for seven years. Working with The Hockey Writers, Brandon works extensively on covering the Boston Bruins in addition to his role as the News Team Lead.