When Geoff Ward left for greener — or at least more German — pastures in the offseason, it was unclear who would take over his power-play duties. Ward, along with coach Claude Julien, had helped orchestrate the Bruins' man-advantage turnaround in 2013-2014, when the team skyrocketed to third in the league with a 21.7 percentage on the power play.
The answers have started to come in, with new assistant coach Joe Sacco set to share power-play duties with Doug Jarvis.
"I think they're going to put a little bit of their imprint on it, but I think for the most part it's basically going to be a lot of the same things that we've done," Julien said. "I don't think there's going to be a ton of changes."
The Bruins spent some time practicing power-play setups Tuesday before their game against the Islanders at TD Garden, with the first group consisting of David Krejci, Johnny Boychuk/Torey Krug, Brad Marchand, Milan Lucic/Matt Fraser, and Zdeno Chara.
Marchand, who was not used on the power play last season, could be an addition to the special-teams unit this season. He has been seeing time in both practice and games with the man advantage. As Julien said of Marchand, "He's been in it. That's certainly a possibility. He's a better player this year already than he was all of last year."
Marchand had a goal and an assist in the Bruins' 5-3 loss to New York, as the hosts went 0 for 3 on the man advantage.
"I think with a couple new faces we're going to have to communicate a lot better," Krug said before the game. "Last year we had a very good understanding of where each other were going to be. The coaching staff and players were on the same page, so now to start the season we've got to communicate better, make sure we talk through some issues that we're going to have, and hopefully by midseason we'll be back to the form that we were. It's just about communicating."
Ward isn't the only loss for the Bruins where the power play is concerned. The team also no longer has Jarome Iginla and his one-timer. He was sixth on the team in power-play goals with four, behind Chara (10), Patrice Bergeron (7), Reilly Smith (6), Krug (6), and Carl Soderberg (5), but the team benefited from the threat that he and his one-timer represented. Iginla had 10 power-play assists.
"A lot of the success last year, on our power play, our unit, was when pucks were thrown to the net from the point, whether it was me or Krech or any of those guys," Krug said.
"It's the same mentality, whoever is out there, whether it's March or another guy, [Fraser], whoever. I think we're all going to have the same mentality."
Lucic had a difficult start to his season, with a tough first preseason game in Detroit. He was called for three penalties in 14:57 on ice time Saturday, and looked off his game.
The left wing is coming off offseason wrist surgery that kept him in a cast for 12 weeks, and Julien said that's where part of the issue is coming from — but not all of it.
"It was a wrist issue," Julien said. "That doesn't stop you from working out, as far as running, cardio, a lot of different things you can do.
"You talk about working on your core part of your body. A wrist doesn't stop that. The only excuse he would have is maybe his hands aren't there yet. I think that was pretty apparent, but the rest there's no excuse to me.
"He came into camp in real good shape, and his hand has not been an issue more than trying to get the comfort of his wrist back to where he'd like to see it. The only way he can do that is by working out in practice and doing a little extra with his hands and working on that part of it.
"To me he's no different than most of the guys — Soderberg, [Chris] Kelly, they were out way before that, they didn't finish the season. You would expect a little bit of rust in their game, but there is some rust in Looch's game, and a lot of it is from his hands."
Krug and Smith did a double session, practicing with both groups of skaters. They had rejoined the team for their first practice session Monday, after sitting out the first weeks of training camp. "Not a step behind physically, but more my timing," Krug said. "Physically, conditioning-wise, I felt pretty good. It was the passes, receiving passes from NHL players that was definitely way different." . . . Julien said that David Pastrnak could be a possibility for this weekend's games, after having taken some more contact in practice Tuesday (including a wallop from Kevan Miller). Julien said the team is waiting on word from the trainers before putting him into game action. "He's a young player that you're certainly not going to take a risk with," Julien said. "But we would like for our sake and for his sake, I think, he would like to at least get a game in and see how he fits in." . . . The Bruins practiced the shootout. Through the first couple of rounds, Marchand was the only Bruin to score, which he did twice. Kelly took the last shift, and quickly went from one end to the other, scoring on both goalies in his two shootout attempts . . . Left wing Anthony Camara continues to remain off the ice with an unspecified illness.