This would be a good time to power up
WASHINGTON - In last year’s opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Bruins shot blanks on all 21 power plays they had against the Canadiens. Through three games of this year’s first round, the Bruins had gone 0 for 11 on the man-advantage.
Some things never change.
Based on the coaching staff’s stat-tracking, the Bruins had compiled 10 scoring chances on power plays through three games. None was good enough to qualify as a 10-bell opportunity. But coach Claude Julien believed that with some more muscle behind their shots, the Bruins could have broken their power-play ice on one of those 10 chances.
“The finish seems to be a little bit of a struggle right now,’’ the Bruins coach said before Game 4 Thursday night. “Sometimes it’s about pouncing on those loose pucks and getting a little better in the finishing area. Those are things we’re going to continue to work on and help the players through it.’’
The Bruins spent part of Wednesday’s practice and a chunk of Thursday’s morning skate practicing the power play. The first unit had Zdeno Chara and Rich Peverley working the points. David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron interchanged on the left side and goal line. Milan Lucic was in front of the net.
The second unit featured some flexibility. Dennis Seidenberg and Joe Corvo were on the blue line. Tyler Seguin, Brian Rolston, and Benoit Pouliot were up front.
Rolston has mostly been a point quarterback during his career. During the last two practices, Rolston has dropped to the high slot when the puck is on the left side. When the puck was on the right side, Rolston was on the half-boards. The Bruins have not had a potent left-shot playmaker on the right half-wall since Marc Savard.
“It’s important, especially at this time of the year, to create some momentum and create some scoring out of it,’’ Bergeron said. “We need to find a way.’’
Owner chimes in
On Wednesday, Capitals owner Ted Leonsis took to his blog to comment on the officiating during the series.
“We can’t let the officials play a role in our game planning,’’ he wrote. “We need to remain disciplined and remember that the defending Stanley Cup champs will always get the benefit of the doubt.’’
Leonsis posted his comments after the Capitals released a statement regarding the one-game suspension of center Nicklas Backstrom.
“This has been a competitive and physical series,’’ the statement read, “and we do not understand why a suspension was imposed in this case while other incidents in this series have not been reviewed.’’
Switch stays on
For the second straight game, the Bruins opened with a reconfigured lineup. Bergeron centered the first line between Lucic and Peverley. Krejci was the second-line pivot for Brad Marchand and Seguin. The Bruins flipped their top two centers for Game 3, and Julien said he liked how some of the top-six forwards improved . . . In Game 3, the Bruins took advantage of Washington’s defensive-zone overload on two occasions. Prior to Daniel Paille’s second-period goal, Gregory Campbell found Greg Zanon open at the left point on the weak side. In the third period, Seidenberg drew three Capitals before hitting Bergeron at the left point. The Capitals have been deploying heavy coverage on the strong side. “They’re overloading the ice there so much,’’ said Campbell. “It’s important to look for other areas that are open in the zone. Using the weak-side point there was an available option at that time.’’
No big deal
The Bruins didn’t plan on adjusting their attack because of Backstrom’s suspension. “Our game plan doesn’t change, because our game plan wasn’t based on Nicklas Backstrom,’’ Julien said. “It was based around the Washington Capitals. We’re going to continue making adjustments because we want to make adjustments. But not because of certain players.’’ . . . The Bruins entered Game 3 having killed eight of Washington’s nine power plays. Alexander Semin scored the Capitals’ lone man-advantage strike through an Andrew Ference screen in Game 3. “You’ve got to put a lot of pressure on them and make them make plays,’’ Campbell said. “Sometimes they’re going to make good plays. Usually on the power play, your best players are out on the ice. In their case, they are the best players out on the ice. We’ve got to make sure they beat us and not give them anything. If they’re going to beat us, it’s got to be a heck of a play.’’
Rask not ready
Anton Khudobin backed up Tim Thomas for the fourth straight game. Tuukka Rask continues to improve but has not been cleared for game action . . . Jordan Caron and Mike Mottau were the healthy scratches for the fourth straight game . . . The Bruins were scheduled to fly back to Boston immediately after Game 4. The Capitals will travel to Boston Friday.