There was a stretch of time coming out of the Olympic break where the Boston Bruins penalty kill was in a funk, but that time is now in the past.
During their seven-game win streak, the Bruins have killed off 19 of their last 20 penalties including the five penalties suffered Thursday night versus the Phoenix Coyotes who rank third in the National Hockey League on the power-play.
At times players preached that they weren't “sticking to the system”, but it is evident now that they are making it a priority that they trust the system that has been so successful under Claude Julien’s tenure.
Since the Washington Capitals exposed their penalty kill in early March, the Black and Gold have been flawless on the penalty kill. It helps that Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara are two of the best defensive players in the NHL and their goaltender Tuukka Rask has been dominant as of late, but this goes further. The entire team is buying into the system, blocking shots and showing commitment to stellar defense.
Julien is very satisfied on how the B’s have stabilized their penalty kill over their seven-game win streak.
“It’s just some small adjustments,” Julien said after winning his 300th game behind the B’s bench Thursday night. “When I came back from Sochi, we sat down again and went through our whole team. Our coach did a great job of going through our whole system while I was away, to just kind of do a refresher kind of practice about all the situations. Then, when I came back, we talked about our power-play and penalty kill."
"I had just felt that we had just a couple of small adjustments, which we all agreed on. Again, I think your goaltender is your best penalty killer, but I think overall our guys did a great job of really making it hard for them to come into our end easily, which they've done a pretty good job of in the past.”
The defense has been juggled around lately due to the arrival of Andrej Meszaros which is no easy feat for players. Players such as Dougie Hamilton and Torey Krug have been taking healthy scratches to let Meszaros get his feet wet and learn the system as they can afford to do it.
The team hasn't missed a beat, however. Hamilton was back in the lineup Thursday night and he was extremely happy with the team's performance on the penalty kill against a Coyotes team that was ranked third on the power play coming into the contest.
“They guys were really working hard and blocking shots and stuff,” Hamilton said. “We knew that they’re I guess a good power play and really skilled and stuff. So, I think we did a really good job and like I said blocked shots and obviously Tuukka (Rask) was really good too.”
The B’s penalty kill hasn't allowed a goal since they beat the New York Rangers 6-3 on March 2nd.
“We just didn’t execute very well and our power play got outworked, it’s as simple as that,” Tippett said. “Third period, the last one in the third we actually started executing a little bit and moving and we had some chances. But, if you’re not willing to work and outwork penalty killers and use the advantage you have, you’re not successful very often.”
The Black and Gold hope to continue their string of dominance Saturday afternoon as they take on the Carolina Hurricanes. The B’s will be looking for their eighth straight win.
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