WILMINGTON — Bruins coach Claude Julien thought he had gotten through a session with the media without a question about the team’s power play. He hadn’t.
“All I’m going to say is that our power play mirrored the way I think our best players played,” Julien said of Friday night’s 4-2 win over the Islanders. “Our best players weren’t our best players.
“It was one of those games where we weren’t very good and it reflects everything.”
After going 0 for 3 Friday night, the Bruins are 1 for 17 on the power play, putting them just a step above Los Angeles, which is 0 for 23.
“We’re four games in, guys,” Julien said. “I’d say three of the four games we’ve moved the puck well, [hit] posts, and had a goal that was disallowed. A lot of things have happened. I think people have to take a step back here and understand.”
Julien mentioned last season’s Stanley Cup run by Los Angeles, during which it didn’t have a great power play. He mentioned that Tampa Bay hasn’t been practicing the power play, focusing instead on five-on-five. He said, too, that hearing about the situation so much leads to the issue weighing on players, something he didn’t want to have happen.
And that’s not to mention that this has been a recurring issue for the Bruins, something that was constantly discussed in their Stanley Cup run two years ago, and which improved only slightly last season.
Fortunately for the Bruins, while the power play has been struggling, the penalty kill has been the opposite. Boston has yet to allow a power-play goal, leaving opponents 0 for 17 with the man advantage.
“I think people have to take a step back here and maybe breathe a little easier here with this stuff, not make it a mountain out of a power play,” Julien said. “Certainly we want it to work well, but it’s not the end of the world.
“We’re still winning some hockey games. We’re still unbeaten in regulation. And our power play has given us some momentum, has given us some chances. So we hope that with time we’ll get more results than we have so far.”
The Bruins are at Carolina Monday night; the Hurricanes weren’t a powerhouse team last season, but they were against the Bruins. Carolina beat Boston in each of four meetings last season.
“They play a certain style that gives us a lot of trouble,” Julien said. “They’re a four-man attack team even this year. They always have the D up in the rush. We haven’t played our best against them. At the same time, they’ve played some good games against us.”
Julien cited the fact that the Hurricanes often crash the net, and that it’s important for the Bruins to take point shots away from them so they can’t pick up the rebounds.
With their first back-to-back games at hand (they host the Devils Tuesday), and three games in four days, the Bruins have their first test of the post-lockout schedule after easing in over the first four games.
“Everybody seems refreshed until now,” defenseman Dennis Seidenberg said. “We’ll see. It’ll be tougher, less recovery for the guys. But I think we’re smart enough to take care of ourselves and know how to take care of our bodies.”
Ready if needed
Tuukka Rask has started every game in net for the Bruins so far. But Anton Khudobin should see some time, likely Monday night. “It’s important for Tuukka to get some rest, but also to keep Anton sharp as well,” Julien said. Said Rask, “He’s kind of like me, same kind of style. Not quite as tall, but he’s solid, sees the puck well. He’s really mobile.” Though Khudobin hasn’t played yet this season, he should be in game shape, given that he spent the lockout tending goal in the KHL for Moscow Atlant. “I’ve been playing before,” Khudobin said. “For me it was just a little break.” He added, “I’ve been in this system for a couple years already. I know what to expect. I know what I need to do, and I know what my guys are going to do.”
Defenseman Adam McQuaid wasn’t on the ice at practice Sunday for personal reasons. He will not suit up against the Hurricanes, but he is expected to rejoin the team Tuesday. Aaron Johnson is expected to take McQuaid’s place . . . Seidenberg returned Friday after missing two games with a lower body injury. He said, “It took me a little bit to get my feet underneath me, but once that happened, I felt comfortable.”
Amalie Benjamin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.