NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Boston Bruins at Pittsburgh Penguins

Not In Rivers, But In Drops – Previewing The Bruins Special Teams

In 2011, the Bruins won their Stanley Cup with a lockdown penalty kill, and a power play that bordered on comically bad. Stop me if this sounds uncomfortably familiar. Finding no reason to fix what isn’t (totally) broken, the Bruins are on much the same trajectory as they were two years ago, though the Blackhawks certainly should not take that as a cue to tempt fate by marching to the box as they have to this point in the post season. Furthermore, the Hawks finding a way to somehow take advantage of the Bruins’ penalty kill will go a long way toward mitigating the physical liberties Boston will no doubt plan on taking.

Power Play

Looking at the Bruins’ power play first, we find a unit that has only scored 7 goals to this point in the post season on 45 opportunities, good for 15.6%, which is good for 10th overall in the post season by percentage, and 5th in total goals scored. Contrast that with the Bruins’ regular season where they were dead last in power play goals scored with 18, and 26th in percentage at 14.8% (122 attempts). Additionally, they managed to not score on the advantage at all in their four game sweep of the Pens, which speaks to just how well their 5 on 5 game is humming.

That isn’t to say that the Bruins lack weapons on the power play. Nathan Horton leads all skaters with 4 points (2G, 2A), and rookie phenom defenseman Torey Krug has three power play goals, all of which he accumulated against the Rangers in the series previous. Both Horton and Brad Marchand have been on the ice for 6 of the 7 Bruins power play goals scored, and boast the best scoring rates per 60 minutes of power play ice time among forwards at 11.85 g/60 and 11.33 g/60 respectively. Dougie Hamilton has the best overall rate by far and away at 24.66, being on the ice for 3 PPG, but he hasn’t seen action since Dennis Sidenberg returned from injury.

The last time the Bruins played, they sent out the Patrice Bergeron centering Brad Marchand and Milan Lucic with Chara and Jagr as “point men” on the first unit, but that’s merely a formality of Bergeron winning the draw and then drifting back to the blue line while Jagr then switches off and works the half wall. The second unit consists of Krejci centering Horton and Seguin, with Krug and Johnny Boychuck on the back end.

Schematically, the Bruins run a pretty straightforward overload, with all five players on the strong (puck) side of the ice, with one at the half wall (Jagr/Krejci), and a forward below the goal line and one in front. The strong side point man will seal off where the boards meet the blue line, with his partner in the middle of the ice at the same distance. Because the Bruins have such size up front, as well as Brad Marchand’s ass boil level of irritation, they mainly try to crowd the net either with stuff plays from the goal line, and blasts from the point, where Krug has shown a knack for finding the net, and Chara has his Doomsday Device of a shot.

For the Hawks, this presents a bit of an issue. They don’t aggressively front point shots, nor do they engage physically with net front road blocks, despite our pleas of the former. So what they’ll need to do to give Corey Crawford a chance at seeing and stopping the puck, they’ll need to close fast and hard on the puck carriers at the perimeter, specifically along the half boards and in the corners. Forcing errant passes to keep the puck from moving to a place where it can generate a netmouth scramble is where the Hawks will have to suffocate the B’s attack, because having Bergeron conistently win draws will keep things pretty well situated in the Hawks’ end for the duration of the 2 minutes each time.

Penalty Kill

Though the Bruins’ penalty kill is where they’ve made their mark over the past three seasons, and their post season stat line is at first blush on par with the expectation set by the regular season, ( 7GA in 52 chances), their 86.5% kill rate was actually last among the four conference finalists, and that’s after not allowing a single Penguins power play goal. So while it is a strength of the team, it’s not fully on par yet with where the Bruins expected to be, so luckily for them the Hawks’ power play is fucking clown shoes.

Not so luckily for them, they’ll have to do so without Gregory Campbell, who along with Daniel Paille, played the most shorthanded time per game among Bruins forwards. However, as a function of that time spent out there, Campbell was on the ice for 6 of the power play goals scored against the Bruins, and Paille for 5. Look for Chris Kelly to slot in again in Campbell’s spot, and he should be aided by Paille’s relentless pursuit in all three zones during the kill. However, on the flip side, the unit (once again) of Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand has yet to see a power play goal against, as a direct function of Bergeron’s dominance at the dot. In case you haven’t guessed it yet, there’s not a lot Bergeron can’t do, and pretty much everything the B’s do hinges on him.

On defense, the pairing of Chara and Dennis Seidenberg see far and away the most ice time among B’s blueliners at around 3 minutes per game a piece, and have only been out for two power play goals against. Obviously, that has nearly everything to do with Chara and not only his intimidating presence in front of the net, but also the sheer amount of ice he covers even when standing still in close quarters on a power play, taking away passing lanes. Based on Bryan Bickell’s absence on the power play at practice today, it seems like Q is not even toying with the idea of engaging him physically, which might be the way to go.

The Hawks would be wise to try to isolate Seidenberg, who while sizeable, is not nearly the alien Chara is, nor anywhere as nasty. This can be accomplished by soft chips into his corner, and then working cycles down low coming out of his corner, either setting up shop for a shot from inside the dot, or walking the tight rope along the goal line for a stuff attempt, and hope that Chara over commits on help, enabling a forward to slip behind or a defenseman to crash down for a pass and a clean look at Rask. Either way, as was stated at the top, the Hawks cannot afford to piss away opportunities, as it will only embolden the Bruins to push their extra-curricular activities even further and further without fear of reprisal on the scoreboard.

 

  • mightymikeD

    If there’s one thing I fear more than most, it’s the idea of Chara or Krug letting rip from the point on the PP. Voynov made some serious hay for the Kings by doing that. The Hawks PK cannot stand off those guys.

    • chidiver

      And Chara wields the Hammer of the Gods on his slapshot. If he gets time to wind up, I truly fear for Super Nintendo.

      • bizarrohairhelmet

        Meh. Weber practically has the same shot.

        • Z-man19

          Would you get in front of either?

          • Why

            I trust several guys on the team to do it. It’s one of the reasons I like this team.

          • DesertHawk

            Do I make ~1 million a year to get in front of them?

          • bizarrohairhelmet

            Would you ask Tom Petty that question?

          • Z-man19

            Shut the fuck up Donny, you’re out of your element

          • Accipiter

            No way !!!!!

          • Z-man19

            Ask me what happened to Donny?

          • Accipiter

            What happened to Donny ?

          • Z-man19

            That is the most modest receptacle we offer

          • Accipiter

            Verdict ?

          • Z-man19

            Probably would’ve helped had I not heard all the lines prior to watching. I’d hear a line and be ‘aw fuck, now I get it’. Watching solo didn’t help either, I give it a six, scale of 10

          • Accipiter

            I was thinking you would have a hard time watching after reading so many quotes. 6/10 ? You have to re-watch it a couple of times.

          • Z-man19

            I own it, so it might happen

          • cliffkoroll

            Huh? No, what the fuck are you… I’m not… We’re talking about unchecked aggression here, dude.

          • bizarrohairhelmet

            Which was probably like 95% of the movie… But there’s a reason why most people involved with it consider it the best Cohen Brothers movie. That’s Quite a statement.

          • Z-man19

            Yes, large chunks of the movie were things I’d heard somewhere before.

    • Sparky_The_Bard-barian

      We definitely need to stay out of the box, not from fear of their PP, but because we are better than them 5 on 5 (by the slimmest of margins) and don’t need to spend 6-10 minutes a game unable to mount an offense.

  • Accipiter

    The Hawks are going to have to attack Chara (laaarmer made mention of this). Getting Chara to take some penalties will make getting a PPG a bit easier for clownshoes. I know the Hawks PP isn’t good, but not having the big D man out there on their PK could be beneficial.

    • Z-man19

      I recall Pronger taking 2 penalties in game 6, did he take many others?

      • Accipiter

        Game 2 – 10min misconduct at end of game.
        Game 3 – 2min high sticking
        Game 5 – 2min hooking
        Game 6 – 2min holding 2min high sticking

        • ballyb11

          Is that from memory or did you look it up?

          • Accipiter

            I did some research.

          • Z-man19

            I know they scored on 1 of those in game 6, pretty sure they didn’t score on any of the others, maybe the game 3 penalty

          • Accipiter

            I think you are correct, just the one goal with CP in the box. I still think the odds are better with ZC in the box. Making ZC do more than he wants to (or has to) in the 30min he plays per game will be one way to wear him down.

    • Sparky_The_Bard-barian

      The Bruins PK isn’t exactly the Fantastic Four.

      • Accipiter

        But it is the Fantastic Four’s shit at 86.5%.

  • ballyb11

    How dd the Blackhawks become such a penalized team. Gotta stop.

    • The Doctor

      Buncha goons.

  • ballyb11

    From PuckDaddy:

    “The Blackhawks should have a fabulous powerplay. ”

    Who knew

    • Accipiter

      The Hawks do have a fabulous PP, it just doesn’t work.

    • Sparky_The_Bard-barian

      ‘should’ being the operative word. With this offensive talent, we should kill teams 5 on 4…. Should. Should Should.

      • Paul the Fossil

        Why do fans keep thinking this? Year after year various NHL teams having tons of offensive talent have crappy powerplays but somehow the meme will never die.

  • Ingmar Bergman

    Okay guys! Tomorrow will tell us a lot.

    • bizarrohairhelmet

      You weren’t fucking kidding. I’ve been up for 2 hours and the day hasn’t shut up since. You would have better prepared us if you said, “Okay guys! Tomorrow will tell us a lot of shit about its stupid cousins while showing A Stream Of ridiculous photos Portraying it’s, Quite frankly, ugly six-month-old child Dressed in various Beagle Costumes. Who invited today anyway?

  • Preacher

    Interesting read over at StanleyCupofChowder, the Bruins SBN blog. The series preview is way more critical of the Bruins than our guys’ was and they actually give the coaching edge to Q. It’s funny how they question Julien’s personnel choices. Sounds familiar! (And how in the world they can give the National Anthem a HUGE edge to the Bruins is mind boggling! But anyway…) Their pick is ultimately Bruins in 6, mostly because of Rask being better than Crow. They feel Crow is playing over his head and will come back to earth. Rask is too, but not as far over his head, so he gets the advantage. Like I said, interesting read.

    • VerStig

      Too lazy to go over and read but I’ve heard people argue that the anthem in Chicago pumps up the road team as much, if not more, than it does the Hawks…

      I don’t think it really works either way. All I know is that our tradition is bestest.

      • Accipiter

        Their guy looks like a ventriloquist.

    • http://www.lotsofbutterplease.com/ I am not Chico Maki

      I LOVE Rene Rancourt. He’s so amazing. He’s also been at it for decades. I wouldn’t trade the Chicago anthem for anything, but this one’s a toss-up. I think it makes sense for both teams’ fans to favour their own in this case.

  • Z-man19

    The fog has lifted, things are much clearer now. I am the Waltus

    • DesertHawk

      Am I the eggman?

    • Accipiter

      Fucking dipshit with a nine toed woman.

      • Z-man19

        I get it now, it’s kinda nice

        • bizarrohairhelmet

          V. Illiyich Lenin, you stupid piece of shit

          • Z-man19

            I just want my rug back man, it really tied the room together

  • Ingmar Bergman

    2010
    Nashville (4-2)
    Vancouver (4-2)
    San Jose (4-0)
    Philadelphia (4-2)

    2013
    Minnesota (4-1)
    Detroit (4-3)
    Los Angeles (4-1)
    Boston ???

    Why should these numbers be concerning? In the Hawks Stanley Cup run they lost only 4 games. So far this postseason they have lost 5 games.

    Alarming? Yes. A cause for worry? Yes, I think so.

    • BigCSouthside

      2+2+2=4?

      • guest

        I think he means they had lost only four games at the point where they were headed into the SCF. It’s still pretty dumb, but at least the basic arithmetic checks out.

        … the “irony” still doesn’t though, hie thee back to eighth grade english to figure out what that is, you’d think someone named ingmar bergman would have a handle on it…

      • Z-man19

        Keenan could make that work

    • http://www.lotsofbutterplease.com/ I am not Chico Maki

      I ask sincerely: why is it alarming? and why a cause for worry?

    • corbant

      2010 – Barrack Obama is president of the US while the Chicago team wins the Stanley Cup.

      2013 – Barrack Obama is still president of the US while the Chicago team is in the Finals for the Stanley Cup, though his administration is maligned by scandal after scandal.

      Alarming? Yes. Relevant? No, I think not.

  • 07GreyDigger

    Love the Isis reference. Definitely one of the best bands of our generation. RIP.