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Friday, April 29, 2011
Bruins must be better on special teams

By John Parolin

In the Eastern Conference Semifinals, the Boston Bruins will face a Philadelphia Flyers team that allowed seven power-play goals against the Buffalo Sabres. That ranked 14th out of 16 teams in the Conference Quarterfinals.

That's good news for the Bruins, who still are looking for their first power-play goal this postseason. Boston became the first team to win a seven-game playoff series without scoring a power-play goal (0-for-21). In fact, the Bruins were outscored in both special teams situations against the Montreal Canadiens in the Conference Quarterfinals.

Montreal held a 6-0 advantage when it had a power play, and the Canadiens outscored the Bruins 1-0 when Boston had the man-advantage. Both the Flyers and Bruins scored 17 even-strength goals, tied for second in the playoffs behind the San Jose Sharks (18).

The Bruins' first line also needs to start producing. In the Conference Quarterfinals, 13 players registered more points than the total notched by the Bruins’ first line of Milan Lucic (two assists), David Krejci (one goal) and Nathan Horton (three goals). While much has been made of Lucic’s playoff struggles so far, it was Krejci who was all but invisible against Montreal.

Last year, Krejci played in nine games before injuring his wrist in Game 3 against the Flyers, missing the rest of the series. But in those nine games, Krejci figured in eight of Boston’s 27 goals (29.6 percent), with four goals and four assists. Against the Canadiens, Krejci had one goal and no assists.

Scoring the first goal will be crucial in the Bruins-Flyers series. In their Conference Quarterfinals matchups, both teams were 3-0 when scoring the first goal.

However, both teams were prone to slow starts. The Sabres outscored the Flyers 11-6 in the first period, and the Canadiens outscored the Bruins 6-4.

Both teams excelled when doing the dirty work in front of the net. Eleven of Philadelphia’s 22 goals were scored either in front of the net, off a rebound or with the goalie screened. Thirteen of Boston’s 17 goals (76.5 percent) were scored in front, off rebounds or through screens.