The Boston Bruins have been a bit slow out of the gates this season with a 2-3-0 record through five games.
Yeah, maybe some of us expected that.
At the same time, the Bruins have the second-best power play in the League.
Do not scratch your eyes. You read that correctly.
I woke up in a strange world where Claude Julien's Bruins have a great power play and are atrocious on defense
— Joe Gravellese (@joegrav) October 18, 2015
Boston’s man advantage is firing on all cylinders early in the season. Entering Sunday’s slate of games, the Bruins power play has converted on 38.9 percent of their opportunities. Only the Colorado Avalanche (41.7 percent) have been better up a man than the Black and Gold so far this year. To their credit, the Bruins own the League lead in power play goals with seven through their first five games.
Saturday night’s 5-3 win against the upstart Arizona Coyotes was another stellar performance from their special teams. Boston scored three times on six power play chances, including two third period goals from Patrice Bergeron. In total, they peppered goaltender Mike Smith with 16 shots on the man advantage
For a team that isn’t necessarily known as a juggernaut when up a man, what has made the Bruins’ power play so powerful so far?
A Healthy David Krejci
Last season, David Krejci battled through various injuries and was never truly healthy. This season, the Czech playmaker is back…with a vengeance.
He has been potent offensively with nine points in the Bruins’ first five games. In fact, Krejci is tied with Henrik Zetterberg for the League lead in scoring. What’s even more remarkable is that the second-line center has received very little help from his linemates offensively as WEEI.com’s DJ Bean explains.
Just one of Krejci’s nine points this season has come with both of his linemates on the ice; In even-strength play, he’s assisted fourth-liner Tyler Randell as often as he’s assisted Beleskey or Pastrnak.
The man advantage has been the source for much of Krejci’s offense early on. The 29-year old is tied for the League lead in power play points with five, including two of his four goals. As part of the number-one unit, Krejci has had plenty of opportunities to punish opponents for taking penalties. So far, he’s done so to great effect.
It might be a bit premature to suggest he will score over 100 points or win the Art Ross Trophy as the League’s top scorer, but Krejci’s blazing start to the campaign is a promising sign of things to come.
Krug The Quarterback
Prior to this season, Torey Krug was primarily known as a power play specialist. In his previous two seasons, the 24-year old defenseman scored 33 of his 79 points on the man advantage (41.8 percent).
Even though he’s evolving into a top-four defenseman this year, Krug’s has remained true to his roots. The Michigan native has yet to score a goal in five games but has six assists to make up for it. Five of those have come on the man advantage, tying him with Krejci atop the League in power play scoring.
Ever since bursting on to the scene back in the 2013 playoffs against the New York Rangers, Krug has gained a reputation for being a quarterback on the power play. Indeed, his small stature at 5’9 and puck handling abilities make him the ideal guy to commandeer the man advantage.
Krug is out to prove to everyone, including himself, that he can be a legitimate top-four defenseman this season. It’s not hurting his cause that the former Michigan State Spartan has been spearheading a revival of the Bruins power play.
Embodying Sweeney’s Vision
Flashback to May when general manager Don Sweeney expressed his vision for the 2015-16 Bruins.
We have to have more aggression in our game. We need to get back to that mentality, and we certainly have a number of players to lead in that direction and that charge, and if other players aren’t willing to do that, then we’re going to make sure we find and identify the players that are.
Boston has certainly been far more aggressive in the early going on the power play. The puck movement, willingness to shoot and bodies crashing the front of the net have been a few of the noticeable improvements from the power play last season.
Oh and I guess the frequency with which they’re scoring is a good thing, too.
The Bruins’ power play has six goals in their last 12 attempts and has been a fun thing to watch in the early going. It may be a credit to the squad taking Sweeney’s words to heart and making sure other teams pay for their mistakes.
Even though Boston may be 2-3-0 with a defense that is still leaky, the power play has been a strong ray of light in the cloud that hangs over TD Garden. Who knows, it could be the calling card to getting themselves back on track after a sluggish start to the year.
Who thought anyone would ever say that?
Joe is a writer covering the Boston Bruins. He is a lifelong native of Massachusetts and is currently a content writer/manager for a newsletter at a Human Services Agency. Joe can be found on Twitter: @JoeCherryTHW