The Boston Bruins had the third-best power play in the NHL last season, and it became a weapon that helped propel the team to the top record in the league.
The 2013-14 campaign marked the first time Boston had a top-five power play since 2008-09, which also was the last full year of Marc Savard’s career.
After an abysmal year with the man advantage in the lockout-shortened season, the Bruins showed remarkable improvement last season with a 21.4 percent success rate.
The chart below shows how the Bruins have fared compared to the rest of the league over the last five seasons.
The key to the Bruins’ power-play resurgence was the playmaking skill and skating of young defensemen Torey Krug and Dougie Hamilton. It will be up to these two players to maintain the team’s success from last season because of the departures of veteran winger Jarome Iginla — a 30-goal scorer with a devastating one-timer from the faceoff circle — and assistant coach Geoff Ward, who was the architect behind the power play.
Krug showed signs of being a power-play threat in the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs, specifically in the second-round series against the New York Rangers when he scored four goals in five games. He continued that form in 2013-14, tying for the team lead in power-play points with 19 (six goals, 13 assists).
Krug’s powerful shot from the blue line and ability to move the puck quickly from point-to-point, the half-wall or below the goal line allowed Zdeno Chara to position himself in front of the net during power plays. At 6-foot-9 and 255 pounds, Chara is extremely difficult to move from the front of the net, and his impressive ability to stick handle in traffic and pounce on loose pucks helped him score 10 power-play goals (tied for the second-most among all D-men).
Hamilton gives the Bruins a puck-mover who can ignite the rush and help the team enter the attacking zone cleanly so it can set up. Whether it’s a good first pass up ice or a self-carry into the zone, Hamilton consistently maintains puck possession so the B’s make the most of each power-play opportunity.
Once the Bruins enter the offensive zone, Krug and Hamilton move the puck quickly and accurately to open shooting lanes. They also are capable of making passes that many defensemen aren’t skilled enough to pull off, or even see. This was evident in Game 5 of the 2014 second-round series against the Montreal Canadiens, when Krug and Hamilton each had a pretty assist on the power play.
Krug and Hamilton were on the ice for 54.8 percent and 44.2 percent of the Bruins’ power-play time last season (only Chara had a higher percentage among B’s D-men), respectively, and those numbers should be even higher in 2014-15 as each player becomes more confident with the puck and earns additional experience.
Without Iginla and a few younger players expected to be in the lineup next season (such as Ryan Spooner, Matt Fraser, etc.), the Bruins might not score as many even-strength goals as they did last season. This will make the efficiency of the power play, which begins with Krug and Hamilton, a key part of the team’s offensive success.
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