MIAMI – The Bruins are enjoying a rest today in South Florida. Given current conditions (sunny, low 80s), it is not a bad place to have a day off. They are scheduled to practice tomorrow in preparation for Sunday’s afternoon game against the Panthers.
With no practice and no media availability, here’s the latest version of Plus/Minus:
+ Penalty kill. Close to flawless execution. Bruins faced 1:36 of shorthanded time in the third period with Zdeno Chara in the box last night. No problem. It starts with the centers winning draws, which can take 15-20 seconds off a power play. Everyone is in synch.
+ Chara rounding into form. Chara was matched mostly against Benoit Pouliot, Vincent Lecavalier, and Martin St. Louis. None of the three had good chances in the third period. Chara didn’t have the best start. But he’s getting close to peak performance.
+ First line. Nathan Horton had a season-high six shots and scored on two. Milan Lucic didn’t start out well against the Lightning, but found his pace in the second period. It’s very hard for opponents to handle the rough-and-tumble wingmen flanking David Krejci.
– Dougie Hamilton’s defense. The rookie played a career-low 10:00 against the Lightning. Hamilton and partner Dennis Seidenberg were on the ice for both Tampa goals. Tricky to balance Hamilton’s offense (two assists) with his defense. But given Tampa’s firepower and the importance of two points, it was the right call to limit Hamilton’s shifts.
– Lack of power-play time. The Bruins didn’t get any one-up time against Tampa. They have to be better at forcing penalties. The Bruins have a league-low 46 power plays.
– Ice conditions in Tampa. The sheet was not up to NHL standards. Very hard for either team to generate sustained offense and make skilled plays. Hopefully ice will be better in Sunrise.