BOSTON — The Bruins’ power play has been their most impressive aspect of the young season, topping the NHL in goals (seven) and conversion rate (38.9 percent) through five games.
While those numbers are nice, it’s also impressive to see how many shots and scoring chances the B’s are creating with the man advantage.
The Bruins entered Wednesday’s games with 48 power-play shot attempts, with 31 hitting the net (six missed and 11 were blocked). Boston also has totaled 22 scoring chances and nine high-danger scoring chances with the man advantage, per War on Ice.
These are good but not staggering totals, so how are the Bruins, who fell to 18th in power-play percentage last season after ranking third in 2013-14, scoring at such a high rate so far this season? Well, there are a few reasons.
Boston’s net-front traffic, including screens and fighting for loose pucks in and around the crease, has been effective. The Bruins also are doing a good job moving without the puck, which opens up passing lanes and makes defending harder for penalty killers.
David Krejci’s return to the lineup after he missed a good chunk of last season with a lower body injury is having an immense impact on the power play’s improvement. Krejci and B’s defenseman Torey Krug lead the league with five power-play points, while Patrice Bergeron is tied for first in goals with three. They account for three-fifths of a No. 1 power-play unit that also includes Ryan Spooner and Loui Eriksson.
These factors, among others, have resulted in the Bruins capitalizing on more of their chances, as evidenced by their 21.9 shooting percentage on the power play (fourth-best in the league). That kind of shooting percentage isn’t sustainable — the Tampa Bay Lightning led all teams at 16.6 percent last season — but it’s still likely the Bruins will greatly improve from last season’s mark of 10.9 percent, which ranked 26th.
The power play’s success is encouraging for several reasons, one being that it has helped the team overcome its inconsistency during 5-on-5 play.
At 5-on-5, the Bruins rank 21st in shot attempts, 16th in even-strength goals, 20th in faceoff percentage and 20th in scoring-chance percentage, per War on Ice. The Bruins have been one of the best 5-on-5 teams throughout coach Claude Julien’s tenure, but that hans’t been the case this season.
The Bruins are dealing with more inexperience than normal on the blue line this season, especially with veteran defenseman Dennis Seidenberg out two months with an injury. As a result, the offense will need to score more goals to offset some of the defensive mistakes. So far, the power play is doing a nice job providing that extra scoring production.
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