WILMINGTON — For so long, the Bruins have had to answer questions about their lackluster power play. They’ve explained it and won despite it. But now, with the addition of a skilled, quick quarterback, the Bruins seem to have the makings of a power play that won’t require apologies.
It starts with having defenseman Torey Krug at the point. His addition allowed the team to shift other players to spots where they might be more effective.
“I think the whole dynamic of our power play — even though maybe people see some of the same faces — is much different,” coach Claude Julien said.
There’s Zdeno Chara in front of the net. There’s newcomer Jarome Iginla positioned for his effective one-timer. Then there’s Krug.
“He looks like he’s been in the league a long time,” David Krejci said. “It’s his first season, you know, so he looks pretty good. Every decision is the right decision. He shoots the puck when he has to. He passes the puck when he has to. So it’s just fun to play with him.”
It’s even more fun for the Bruins when Krug does what he did against Detroit last Saturday night, scoring once and assisting on a goal by Chara.
It’s what the team believes he can do on a regular basis. With his combination of quickness and vision, Krug changes the game on the power play. He has the ability to put the puck on net, to get opportunities for Chara and Iginla on the first unit, to make it a force where it once was a joke.
“You could see he had good vision and he was moving the puck well,” Julien said, of his initial impressions of Krug. “You didn’t see him intimidated by that jump from coming out of school to the NHL. You could see he had the poise and the confidence to be a good player.”
The Bruins knew Krug needed some time in the minors to fine-tune his game and to learn to play the way the team demands. He had to adjust to the size and strength of the players in the NHL. He did that, and he showed at the end of last season that he’d learned enough to become the weapon that Julien saw in those first few glimpses.
“I like everything about him,” Krejci said. “He’s a great player, and not only on the power play, but on five on five, he’s doing a great job. He’s great on breakouts. He’s just so shifty. He’s quick. So you know I love everything about him.”
While it’s early yet, the Bruins have gone 2 for 7 on the power play, good for eighth in the league. Not that Krejci is getting too excited.
“Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t,” said Krejci. “We had a good game last week against Detroit, but you don’t want to get too high when you have one good game. So you’ve just got to stay at an even level and try to be better next game.”
That’s the position Krug is taking. He was asked about the Calder Trophy — for NHL Rookie of the Year — and he instantly deflected the suggestion.
“I don’t think about it at all,” he said. “I still have a spot here that I’ve got to secure, and every day I come to the rink trying to prove myself and prove to the coaching staff and management and even my teammates that I’m a guy that [should] be on the ice regularly. I want to be a big part of the team.”
So far, he is. And his skill on the power play will make it difficult to take him off the ice, especially if the results keep coming.
“It’s a lot of fun,” he said. “We have a lot of different skill sets on the power play. Whether it’s Krech and his vision and his skill, Iggy’s one-timer, Looch’s ability to shoot the puck and battle down low, and then obviously Z can do all of that.
“There’s a lot of different players on the power play, but we’re having a lot of fun with it, moving the puck around, and always trying to get better. We’re asking each other questions, seeing what we like to do for each other.”
With all the transitions the Bruins have made this season — including new right wings on three of the four lines — the transition of the power play seems to be one of the most seamless. And though the Bruins have proven in years past that they can win without a stellar power play, they know that it’ll be significantly easier to win with one.
“We take pride in our five-on-five game, so we felt pretty comfortable,” Krejci said. “But when the power play is clicking and putting some goals in the net it always helps the team. So we’re going to try to do that this year, and if we can be successful on the power play we’re going to be an even better team.”