Bruins

The best remedy for Bruins’ uneven second power-play unit? Fire away

Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Stop me if you’ve heard this before — but the Bruins haven’t been all that great at scoring during 5v5 play this season.

It’s beating a dead horse at this point, but for as solid as this Bruins team has been this season given the amount of injuries it's faced, it’s awfully concerning when you look at how much this club relies on its power-play prowess to bail it out of listless even-strength stretches.

And while Boston’s man advantage operates with a potent 27.3 percent success rate (good for second overall in the NHL), it’s a power play that also isn’t without its warts.

After relinquishing 10 shorthanded goals all of last season, this club has equaled that mark through 50 games in 2018-19 — a byproduct of some unlucky bounces, over-aggressive play in the offensive zone and some poor puck management around Boston’s own net.

Of course, some of those blemishes can be mitigated when players like David Pastrnak (14 power-play goals) and Torey Krug (20 power-play points) are carving up the opposition down the other end of the ice.

But what if that top unit stalls? The onus then falls to Boston’s second grouping on the power play — a faction that has struggled at times to generate quality chances on the back end of an opposing penalty.

So far this season, the Bruins have tallied 44 power-play goals (4th in NHL) and notched 125 points on the man advantage. Of that scoring output, 31 goals and 91 points were generated from the first unit — which has primarily featured Pastrnak, Krug, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, with Jake DeBrusk serving as the latest addition as a net-front presence.

The remaining 13 goals and 34 points have come from the rest of Boston’s contributors on the power play — which is now comprised of David Krejci, David Backes, Matt Grzelcyk and Charlie McAvoy, while Peter Cehlarik has slotted in for Danton Heinen over the past two weeks.

Now, given how dynamic Boston’s top power-play squad can be — along with the added reps they earn as Bruce Cassidy’s go-to group — perhaps it’s a bit unreasonable to compare the disparity in point production between both the first and second unit.

But, as evidenced during Tuesday’s shootout loss to Winnipeg, it’s not the quality of the chances that the second unit has failed to generate — it’s simply getting the puck off their sticks.