BOSTON -- The last few seasons the Boston Bruins’ power play has been one of the least desirable aspects of the team’s game.
They still won the Stanley Cup in 2011 with a dreadful power play, but coach Claude Julien and his staff have worked feverishly to correct it. In the past, the Bruins tinkered with having Zdeno Chara and his 6-foot-9, 255-pound frame camped in front of the net during the man-advantage, but it was never consistent because the team needed him on the blue line.
Now that rookie defenseman Torey Krug is in the mix and has proven he can handle the blue line on the PP, Julien decided this summer that once training camp began the team would attempt putting Chara in front once again.
During the preseason exhibition schedule, the Bruins’ top power-play unit enjoyed success and it’s carried over into the regular season. On Saturday, Boston’s PP netted two goals en route to a 4-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings at TD Garden.
Both Krug and Chara scored power play goals Saturday.
In the season opener, the Bruins went 0-for-3 during their 3-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Despite the 0-fer, Julien was pleased with the puck movement and sharpness of the power play. On Saturday, the two power-play goals proved to be the difference maker.
Krug’s presence as the quarterback of the team’s top power-play unit has made a big difference. His ability to move the puck quickly and accurately, along with a sniper-like shot, is going to help the team have success while on the man-advantage. He proved that during the Stanley Cup playoffs last spring, and he’s continuing that this season.
“He’s a big part of it,” Julien said. “I’ve talked about it before, Zdeno was on the point because we didn’t have a ton of other options but now we do. We’ve added [Dougie] Hamilton to that group and Krug. The mobility has increased back there, so it allows us to move [Krug] into the position he’s better suited for.”
Boston quickly capitalized on its first power play of the night when Krug’s slap shot from just inside the blue line beat Detroit goaltender Jimmy Howard to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead at 9:11 of the first period. Chara was camped out in front and set the screen as Krug’s shot whistled past everyone and beat Howard.
Because Krug has a knack for getting his shot through, Julien wants him to shoot when given the opportunity.
“That’s what we talk about; if you don’t have a play throw it down in front and Z’s going to battle for it,” Krug said. “Having Z and [Milan] Lucic down there, if we miss the net or if we just throw it down there, there’s a good chance we’re getting the puck back. We have a good setup and we’re excited about what we can do this year. We need to continue to work on it because it’s not just going to continue to have success like that.”
Chara added the team’s second power-play goal at 12:17 of the third period to give Boston a 4-1 lead. He beat Howard with a backhander to the top right corner.
The Bruins’ penalty-killing unit is a perfect 7-for-7 in the first two games of the season, but Boston’s PK has always been solid. Now that the power play is working well, the players are pleased with the special teams.
“I love watching the power play, especially when they’re clicking,” said Chris Kelly, won of the Bruins’ penalty killers. “Those were two huge goals for us tonight and it ended up being the difference. They’re moving the puck around well. They’re outworking the penalty killers and that’s a major thing. It’s your best players on the power play and when they go out there and outwork the other team’s penalty kill good things are going to happen.”