And it all started out so well. The Bruins began the season with two power-play goals in their second game, against Detroit, and it seemed as if the team finally had solved its problems with the man-advantage. But three games later, the Bruins still have just those two goals.
“At the end of the day, the main thing of a power play is that you have to score, and we’re not doing that, so you can’t be happy with it,” coach Claude Julien said.
Echoed defenseman Torey Krug, whose presence on the power play this season had seemed to be a harbinger of better things, “We didn’t score goals. That’s what we’re judged on.
“They can say we had great puck movement, but that doesn’t matter because our job is to score goals and get momentum for our team.”
One of the main issues is overpassing, which has affected the team both at even strength and on the man advantage. The Bruins of late are having trouble finishing, despite spending significant time in the offensive zone. But the problem is magnified on the power play, where the Bruins are down to 2 for 19 (10.5 percent) after starting 2 for 7, going scoreless in their last 12 chances. In fact, they have as many shorthanded goals as they have power-play goals.
“It seems to be a tendency of whoever is out there on the power play,” Krug said. “We like to make the pretty play, and sometimes that’s not what it takes. It’s just something ugly, get it to the net, and let those guys go to work.”
Against the Red Wings Monday, the Bruins had a five-on-three opportunity for 1:53 — a chance to get back into a game they trailed by two goals — and they couldn’t capitalize. It seemed like they were officially back to the old days, the days in which the power play had almost become a disadvantage.
“I just think the finish hasn’t really been there since that game,” Milan Lucic said before Monday’s game. “Maybe we’re passing a little too much when we should be shooting.”
He said then that the mind-set for the team was to get more pucks on net. But that didn’t yield any results. Instead, the Bruins went 0 for 5 on the power play, failing to convert on a team they previously had been successful against, as the Red Wings blocked a whopping 22 shots.
There were many shots, but Julien acknowledged, “Some of our guys that are good shooters probably aren’t shooting as well as we’d like them to be.
“We’re not putting the puck in the net on our power play. It doesn’t matter who it is, you’ve seen other guys go on the power play and it seems to be a team thing right now and we’re fighting to score goals.”
There are chances, which is a positive. They’re just not going in.
The Bruins understand what they need to do. They just need to find a way to do it.
“The more you move, the more you open up passing lanes,” Krug said. “The more you shoot the puck, the more passing lanes appear. We’ve just got to do a better job of scoring goals. We had the chances. That’s it.”
After all the talk in preseason about developing chemistry on the lines, Julien turned that on its head when he switched up the lines Saturday against Columbus — and it paid immediate dividends.
Reilly Smith was moved to the second line with Patrice Bergeron and Loui Eriksson, and the trio was responsible for a goal against the Blue Jackets, followed by another Monday against the Red Wings.
“You’ve just got to go and try to play,” Bergeron said. “You can’t really think too much when you have a new linemate right away. It’s about just trying to play your game and have everyone try to adjust, I guess, on the fly and just make the best happen.
“I thought it was actually a good period for us when Smitty came on our line. He’s a very fast player and he’s made some great plays. It’s just about playing your game. You can’t think too much. You’ve got to go out there and just do it, what’s best that you think for your team.”
So does that mean developing chemistry is overrated?
“I don’t think so,” Bergeron said. “I think it’s about finding ways to adjust to one another and just playing your game. I think that’s the bottom line is playing your game and having everyone do that and then we’ll find a way.”
The rust factor
The Bruins are still trying to figure out the defensive rotation as they go, but Matt Bartkowski has been in for the past two games and Dougie Hamilton out. That’s a difficult situation for Hamilton, who needs development time on the ice. Bartkowski looked rusty in his first game, but he improved Monday. “He was better today than he was the other day, so that’s what you want to see from a player,” Julien said. “And he hadn’t played in a while and just because he missed three games, it’s more about the length of time that he missed more than anything else. So our games are getting a little closer now so hopefully the guys that come into the lineup won’t be as rusty.” . . . The Bruins were off Tuesday. They will practice Wednesday at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla., before facing Tim Thomas’s Panthers Thursday.