Penalty-killing unit able to stop at nothing
VANCOUVER, British Columbia — The Canucks had entered the Stanley Cup finals with a sparkling 28.3 percent success rate on the power play in the playoffs. Last night, they went on the man-advantage six times. Given their previous success, the Canucks should have buried at least one of their chances.
Instead, the Bruins shut them out.
“I thought our PK did a great job against their power play,’’ said Bruins coach Claude Julien.
Vancouver’s first power-play unit is as good as any in the NHL. Alexander Edler and Christian Ehrhoff man the points. Henrik Sedin works the half-boards. Ryan Kesler goes to the front of the net and stays there. Daniel Sedin hunts for openings and snipes shots whenever possible.
The deadly five-man unit didn’t get much against the Bruins. The Bruins kept their PK box tighter than a Green Man suit.
“They’re going to do a couple different things,’’ Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference said before the game. “That’s what video’s for. You study it and look for tendencies. That only does so much. You can key on certain things. First and foremost, you don’t want to get in the box. After that, it’s keying on tendencies, sacrificing, and playing your hearts out. That’s what the penalty kill really turns into.’’
The Bruins didn’t do a good job of staying disciplined. One of last night’s referees was Stephen Walkom, who was one of the two (Dan O’Halloran was the other) who called a penalty-free match in the Bruins’ 1-0 Game 7 win over Tampa Bay.
In contrast to the Tampa game, Walkom and colleague Dan O’Rourke had no choice but to reach for their whistles all night. The Bruins were called for seven minor penalties. The hardest to take was a hooking call on Rich Peverley at 9:54 of the second.
At the time, the Bruins were already shorthanded. Dennis Seidenberg had been called for kneeing at 9:28. On the play, Peverley tried to get around Henrik Sedin. Peverley peeled around Sedin for a shorthanded scoring chance. But the play was whistled dead because Peverley had hooked his stick into Sedin’s midsection to slow his progress toward a loose puck.
Vancouver’s ensuing five-on-three, however, was cut short just eight seconds later when Kevin Bieksa was nabbed for high-sticking.
Campbell steps down Yesterday, NHL senior executive vice president of hockey operations Colin Campbell stepped away from his disciplinarian duties.
Because Campbell is the father of Bruins fourth-line center Gregory Campbell, vice president of hockey operations Mike Murphy was involved in all disciplinary matters regarding the Bruins. When Zdeno Chara was subject to discipline following his hit on Montreal’s Max Pacioretty, Murphy conducted the hearing and absolved the captain.
Campbell’s most controversial decision involving the Bruins came in 2010, following a blind-side elbow by Pittsburgh’s Matt Cooke to Marc Savard’s head. Cooke was neither fined nor suspended, even though it led to a rule change involving such shots.
Campbell explained that because Cooke wasn’t penalized for the hit originally, there was nothing in the NHL rule book that would allow him to discipline the Pittsburgh agitator.
“I don’t think Greg’s had any issues with it; neither have we,’’ Julien said of Colin Campbell’s duties. “It’s publicly known that his father had no decisions involving anything done with our team. It was done fairly. It was somebody else dealing with those issues.
“Even before Greg came to our hockey club, I’ve always been one of those guys who knows how hard Colie’s job was. Even when it didn’t always favor us, I always respected the decisions that were made.’’
Return trip Bettman confirmed that in 2011-12, the new Winnipeg team — formerly the Atlanta Thrashers — will remain in the Southeast Division. It will shift to the Western Conference after next season. For the Bruins, it will mean a pair of visits to Winnipeg next year.
During Bettman’s annual pre-Cup finals press conference, deputy commissioner Bill Daly estimated that next year’s salary cap will be between $60 and $63 million, after being $59.4 million this season.
Pending Bruins unrestricted free agents include Tomas Kaberle ($4.25 million annual cap hit), Michael Ryder ($4 million), Mark Recchi ($1.95 million), and Shane Hnidy ($500,000). The Bruins could also start 2011-12 with Savard ($4.007 million) on long-term injured reserve.
Brad Marchand is the only significant player to hit restricted status July 1.
Front man As expected, Chara was the net-front presence on the Bruins’ No. 1 power-play unit. He was effective at screening Roberto Luongo and getting his stick on several pucks during a four-minute power play in the first period. Overall, the Bruins landed 12 power-play shots. The Canucks fronted Chara and didn’t try to shove him out of the way. “On the first power play, it was a bit tough to find the puck,’’ Luongo said. “But once they got another one, I was able to make a few adjustments and be able to see the puck better. I think he’s a big body. At the same time, we decided it was best if we just leave him alone and let me take care of him.’’ . . . Before last night’s game, Julien credited the atmosphere of the Bell Centre in Montreal for preparing his team for the Rogers Arena frenzy. “When we go to Montreal, we get a pretty good feel of what those crowds can be like,’’ Julien said. “I’m sure Vancouver will be a lot like Montreal has been against us. We’ve had a lot of practice in that area.’’ . . . Daniel Sedin led all players with eight shots . . . Johnny Boychuk was credited with a game-high eight hits . . . The Bruins won 56 percent of the faceoffs. Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci each went 12 for 21.