Of the 14 goals scored by the Bruins in their five-game first-round series against the Red Wings, six came on the power play. That’s a lot more than the Bruins could have expected in previous seasons, when the power play was more of a liability than an asset.
But that’s not the case this season, and the Bruins’ third-ranked power play in the regular season (21.7 percent success) scored at an even higher rate against Detroit, going 2 for 6 Saturday to make it 6 for 16 in the series.
“Obviously, the power play has helped us a lot through this series,” coach Claude Julien said. “Certainly makes it a lot easier. We’ve won before without having a successful power play, but when you’ve got that [in the] arsenal it certainly makes it a lot easier.”
Asked if he thought the special teams would be the difference for the Bruins, Milan Lucic said, “Honestly, no, but getting the power-play goals that we were able to in this series, if you look at them, they were all huge, huge goals and our power play has been good for us all year. It’s nice that it’s a weapon instead of something that’s kind of taking momentum away from us.”
The Bruins got their first two goals on the power play, with Loui Eriksson scoring in the first and Zdeno Chara adding a one-timer with 3.8 seconds left in the second period.
“I think that we worked really hard this season to have a better power play and we’ve got to continue to do that,” Chara said.
The Bruins got more than the usual number of chances on the power play, too. For a team that isn’t adept at drawing penalties, that gave the Bruins opportunities they were able to make the most of Saturday.
“I think we’re moving the puck well and we’re making the plays when they’re there and we’re not overdoing anything, but it’s huge,” Tuukka Rask said. “When your penalty kill is doing the job, you need the power-play guys to step up and win your games and that’s huge in the playoffs.”
Let the hate begin
Although the Bruins weren’t quite ready to move on to their second-round series against the Canadiens, there were some fighting words already from the Bruins.
As Lucic said, “Another Original Six battle that we get to be a part of and a lot of hatred between the teams, the fans, the cities when it comes to this kind of rivalry, so we expect them to bring their best.
“We saw what they were able to do in the first series [a sweep of Tampa Bay], and we’ve got to be prepared to come out and elevate our game as the playoffs move on.”
The series will be the 34th between the teams.
Said Shawn Thornton, “It’s a good rivalry. We’ve played them a lot in my seven years here, so my initial feeling is embrace it. It’s good — both cities really get into it, both teams get into it, so I’m going to enjoy it.”
The penalty summary on the stat sheet was longer than usual, with 13 penalties called on the Bruins and Red Wings in Game 5. That included a period of 65 seconds at the end of the second in which penalties were called on Eriksson (18:40, goalie interference), Johan Franzen (19:23, holding), and Brendan Smith (19:45, cross-checking). And just 1:11 into the third, another was called on Brad Marchand (roughing). It made for stop-and-start hockey that didn’t seem to benefit either team.
As Julien said, “You certainly don’t like to see that. It wears out the same guys and those are things that you try and stay away from in the playoffs — penalties. It was very uncharacteristic if you compare it to the other games.”
The Bruins killed six of seven penalties and went 18 for 20 on the penalty kill in the series.
After clinching their series, the Bruins were scheduled for a day off Sunday. There was no immediate word on a start date for the Bruins-Montreal series, though it cannot begin Thursday in Boston because of Northeastern University’s graduation, which is set for Friday morning at TD Garden. Individual tickets and single-game suite rentals for the second round were scheduled to go on sale on Sunday at 11 a.m. at TD Garden box office, bostonbruins.com, or through Ticketmaster . . . Daniel Paille skated in the morning before Game 5 . . . There was no update on Corey Potter, who appeared to injure his shoulder at practice Friday. Julien said, “He fell awkwardly and obviously hurt himself, so I haven’t heard the final details from our guys yet.” . . . Rask got the secondary assist on Eriksson’s first-period goal. It was his second career playoff assist.