- Joe McDonald, ESPN Staff Writer
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WILMINGTON, Mass. -- Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien would rather discuss something other than his team’s power play this season.
Actually, he’s never really enjoyed the subject because it’s an area the Bruins have struggled, both past and present. Boston is 3-0-1 in this season despite the fact the power play is 1-for-17. The Bruins went 0-for-3 in Friday’s 4-2 win over the New York Islanders, so Julien had his special teams working again during practice on Sunday at Ristuccia Arena.
After the hour-long session preparing the team to face the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday night at PNC Arena in Raleigh, N.C., Julien was asked again about the power play.
“I thought I was going to get away with at least one day without that question,” Julien said with a smile. “All I’m going to say is our power play mirrored the way some of our best players played. Our best players weren’t our best players. Our fourth line did the job to keep us in there, but again, it was one of those games where we weren’t very good and it reflects everything.
“The results really haven’t been there, the end results, but the power play, we’re four games in and I’d say three of the four games we’ve moved the puck well.”
Then Julien mentioned that the team has hit a couple of posts during the PP and had another would-be goal disallowed against the Rangers.
During the 2011-12 season, the Bruins were ranked No. 15 on the power play, scoring only 43 goals in 250 chances for a 17.2-percent success rate. The Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings were ranked 17th after scoring only 49 goals on 289 chances for a 17-percent rate.
During the 2011 postseason, when the Bruins won the Stanley Cup, they were ranked No. 14 among the 16 playoff teams, scoring only 10 power-play goals in 88 chances for a 11.4-percent success rate.
“People have to take a step back here and understand, I could throw a lot of things at you guys, whether it’s L.A. that won a Stanley Cup without a great power play, I think Tampa right now has just said they don’t even practice their power play because they realize that the 5-on-5 play is what wins Stanley Cups,” Julien said.
“People have to take a step back here and maybe breath a little easier here with this stuff, and not make a mountain out of our power play. We certainly want it to work well, but it’s not the end of the world. We’re still winning some hockey games. We’re still unbeaten in regulation and our power play is giving us some momentum, and it’s given us some chances. We hope, with time, we’ll get more results than we have so far.”
Even when the Bruins players are asked about the subpar power play, they give the standard answer but also seem to be tired of talking about it.
“It’s one of those things, and when all you do is hear it, it weighs on players too,” Julien said. “For us, we’re just trying to focus on what we have to do and not worry about what’s on the outside. For some reason, it seems to be a real popular topic, but our guys are working hard at it. The power play, so far, looks a lot better than last year and I don’t think anyone will argue about that fact.”
Bruins forward David Krejci says all the team needs is a little bit of luck to bounce its way on the power play, and the players are confident it eventually will happen.
“It’s coming and we’ve got good enough players to make it happen,” Krejci said. “It’s been a while, so hopefully we can crack it tomorrow.”
Julien is more than happy to discuss how good the team’s penalty-killing unit has been. It’s been perfect. The Bruins are 17-for-17 on the PK this season. In the last few seasons, Boston has maintained a strong penalty-killing unit. It was ranked 11th last season and allowed only 43 goals in 260 times shorthanded.
“Our penalty kill has been as good as you can ask it to be, and not by luck,” Julien said. “We’ve definitely done some outstanding work, especially on the 4-on-3s and the 5-on-3s where we’ve hardly given up any scoring chances on those and that speaks volumes. Our penalty kill is certainly where it needs to be.”
Just don’t ask the coach about his power play.
5dPierre LeBrun and Joe McDonald